Thursday Flash (16)

Flash….

The FT examined commuter costs once again. It is nice to see that I am living on the edge of commuter costs vs. house prices. I guess money is not everything and our life in the South Downs is just amazing (if I may say so).

I absolutely love reading Success – and this article is about mentally tough people and what their character looks like. I am pretty darn close πŸ˜‰

And this article on AEI (Artificial Emotional Intelligence) describes something mixing the tech with emotions. Or something like that. I found it researching some AI stuff and whilst a couple of years old, this article is a good read.

Hope you enjoyed it.
See you in a flash πŸ˜‰
Volker

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Sunday Column (433)

Happy Easter. I love Easter, mainly because I can spend a lot of time with the family. Good food, great chats and quality time with the kids. Particularly if you have the weather and can spend some time outside. It is nice and meeting great friends, chatting about what was and what there will be. Easter, for me, is about reflecting on the winter, the dark months, then to move forward towards the summer. It is also very close to my birthday, so making it a reflective time for me.

I started Easter with a run – a 10 mile run turned into a 23K run – as always I got lost. A lot of uphill and downhill. With the wife – and it was fantastic. I was knackered though. Being out in the woods, spring in the air, some drizzle, some views. Amazing.

This week I have been debating what and how much to write. It will be a shorter post I thought, just because I am really chilling out, relaxing and staying offline more than anticipated. This is a good thing. A friend of mine recently suggested that the trend goes towards digital cameras, MP3 players and any other ‘not connected’ devices. Away from an all in one, phone, connected device. I am not sure about that yet. However, maybe it is a trend and ‘humans’ will try to disconnect again. Hmm. Time will tell.

On productivity, a few weeks ago I started using Inbox for Gmail (by Google) which essentially let’s you snooze your emails to a time/date which is convenient for you. By doing so it removes the emails from your inbox. This way you easily get to inbox zero and also read emails when they are relevant (e.g. important ones in the morning, newsletters on a Friday afternoon). It gives you an immense satisfaction to clear your inbox by the end of the day, before a holiday or sometimes during the day. Latter is less often the case and it helps you to chase and remind people of actions.

Having more control over emails and being able to use inbox as a todo list, something I never recommended to do with a ‘standard inbox’, is a good way to keep your todo list small. On the other hand, the amount of articles lately that suggest to schedule time in your calendar for actions to get them done rather than using lists, is getting more. I will share them via the Thursday Flash, but only partly agree. Blocking time to get through your todo list and work on time relevant things is important and good practise. However, to schedule every task down to the hour only makes sense if your work is very task based and then you work through one after another anyway – hence could use a list. But as outlined in my book (link on the right hand side), the important thing is that you find a system that works for you and that you are consequent in using and applying it.

I enjoy my Easter break. The last 3 and a bit months have been very intense. In a good way though. Time to reflect, recharge and fly to the moon when I am back! The sky is the limit, really! Powered by Rocket Fuel πŸ™‚ Sorry I couldn’t resist. LOL

Whilst I would say that, over Easter I had to explain a few people what we do and how we do it. Our industry is still so young and so far away from the big boys. No surprise there are the big boys like Oracle, Times, Adobe that get into the game. Fun. And surely more mergers and acquisitions ahead. What will life look like Easter 2018?

Anyway, I am disconnected too – a bit anyway. Not fully of course, that wouldn’t be me.

Have a great Easter weekend.

Best,
Volker

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Thursday Flash (15)

Flash….

This article about IBM Watson and AI (Artificial Intelligence) is mind blowing. Amazing what technology and AI can do these days. Respect Big Blue!

Amazing weight loss – no this is not about some super pills but about a man who lost 400 pounds (ca. 200 kg). Just nice to read and encouraging for anyone who is looking for some motivation.

And last but not least this week, an article on Apple’s patent on docking stations – I said it before, the future will be us running around with a ‘smart phone’ sort of device that plugs us into any screen or keyboard and accesses data from the clouds. No more laptops or tablets to be carried around.

But as of last week, the future is changing daily.

Have a great Easter,
Volker

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Sunday Column (432)

The joys of travel makes it almost enjoyable to sit on an old Southern train on a Friday, bumping in the seat, as I go into the office. The usual routine is back and I had a chance to see both the wife and the kids before I headed out of the house. The life I chose to be living. As I finalise this piece, my kids are sitting in their PJs entertaining themselves, the wife is making lovely bacon butties and I have a strong cup of Joe. Saturday, sunny, and maybe a BBQ on the cards. Life can be pretty awesome.

Friday, and that is not what I anticipated, a terror attack in Stockholm. As I said on Twitter, I was in Stockholm when it happened in London and I was in London when it happened in Stockholm. My friends are safe in Stockholm. I am shocked. I said it then and I say it now, we will see more of those attacks. Terror. Not a lot of casualties but fear. Cheap, little preparation. Stay safe everyone. Then there was Syria. Wow. I don’t know what to say but I am more scared of stupid people than of smart people. And you know what I mean by that.

Anticipating how the week would develop, see comment above ‘or not’, I started my ‘new routine’ this week of flying into Germany for a few days with a lazy Monday night. That was very much needed, and deliberately planned. So I started the week with a long sauna session followed by eating healthy salad, watching ‘The motorcycle diary’, a story about Che Guevaras. The right thing to do. Balancing your life.

I cannot say I know much about him, but he travelled and experienced a lot new input biking across South America. I have not travelled much to new and exotic places (yet) however lived in different cultures since I have been 16. That’s a different experience. A different input. So watching the movie and for Che Guevaras to realise that he is no longer the one he was, stroke a cord with me. I am no longer the me I was when I lived in Germany 16 years ago. Or in the USA 20 years ago. Life moved on and experience took over, and one got busy having a family and all. But we are still we, aren’t we?

Those experiences determine how we react. For our German team we did a personality test (red=driven, blue=organised, yellow=creative, green=team person) which determines your main character. Similar to Meyers Briggs this test just looks at your favourite personality treat but uses colour to determine your preference (see above as a rough guide). I am, of course, red. Driven, determined and GSD (getting sh* done). I strive on productivity and love getting lots done doing two jobs at the time. I try to not let anything slip through the net, but cannot promise to go into every little detail as necessary. That is a challenge for me but as they say, it is interim. This interim position got a lot of traction in the German press which I sincerely enjoy. See my Linkedin profile for details.

So whatever made you the person you are, determined your connections between your left and right brain, and whichever experience helped you to be who you are and achieve what you got, you will always go back to your childhood values. Can you tell I have been in Germany, getting back to making those long winded sentences (Schachtelsatz) πŸ™‚ Values often don’t change but come out in different ways. The basic you, the one that doesn’t change, is still there, even after all those years and experience. And this is what I find fascinating, to still get adjutated (sometimes) with the same things by getting a trigger in Germany. Pushing the button on small things that I had long forgotten. That includes words, actions and attitudes. An amazing muscle/brain memory function of going back and making those connections mentioned above.

As I start writing this post I am about to take off from Hamburg. A lovely city. A nice city. It is funny how every airline seems to take off slightly different, like a different driver of a taxi, getting used to Eurowings. Moving forward I will go back to Easyjet at least for the outbound journey due to a) costs and b) convenience. Also, in all honesty I enjoy the extra challenge of having two jobs on one company, however difficult it is to manage sometimes. It is fun and satisfying. I strive on a challgene and love the company I work for. I do. And the more challenging it gets, the better the job right?

So I managed to wrap up the week from London and focus my energy on my two little boys over the weekend. Actually I don’t think they are that little anymore. It is great to see them again and make sure they know I am still there and love(d). I cannot wait to spend more time with them over Easter. I managed to bring back some new Pokemon and some Pokeballs. And some Gummibears of course and NicNacs which are still not available in the UK. Allegedly, so I heard years ago, there is some licensing issues around it. You’d never knew.

With those thoughts about the constant evaluation of life and work, character and personal destination, I want to close for the week. I can see an increase in downloads for my book which is nice and encouraging and hope it helps people to organise their life’s systems. Link on the right hand side.

Have an amazing week ahead of you.

Love and kindness,
Volker

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Thursday Flash (14)

Flash….

This week I like to share a couple different topics.

This article is about Stephen Hawkings and Climate Change – and it has a message to Trump in it too. Definitely a good read.

Further, a couple of weeks ago, Adidas announce to go Digital only – is that the right way? And would this really result in it taking on Nike? Will online be enough, without TV ads? We shall see.

Last but not least, a good read about 20 beliefs you will stop believing in 20 years time. Life is changing and so are our beliefs.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s flash.

See you next Thursday!
Volker

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Sunday Column (431)

An immensely intense week I may say. A highly enjoyable week though. It went very quickly too. A normal busy Monday lead to a 3 day off-site in London. That meant I stayed over in London, didn’t sleep well and was sitting in marathon meetings, working early until late. But it was inspiring, useful and drove the business forward. Given one doesn’t have a commute, is used to getting up early, a 7 am start in the office is amazing. One gets so much done. Yet it is intense, but also enjoyable. GSD = Getting Sh*t Done! To finish off the week I met with a friend from NY and ex colleagues on Thursday. That was nice. Friday I made it home for bath time and the boys were delighted to see me. So was I.

Having tried to get over some virus earlier in the week and hence didn’t exercise, I just had to do a 7.5K run plus I had to take an early train to get to the Home Office. The, hopefully, final step to get my British passport, the interview where they ask you all those questions to verify you are, who you claim you are. The guy interviewing me tried to make it funny and entertaining. At least that’s how it came across and I felt very awkward. Anyway, my passport should be with me in the next few days. Some questions were who my parents are, where they were born, which way I drive to take the boys to school etc.

It definitely concludes a successful week. A week when you don’t sleep well, feel under the weather, yet have so much energy and drive to work throughout. I was buzzing on Friday. I so enjoy that. What I didn’t enjoy? Not seeing the boys. So coming home on Thursday to see one still awake at 9, it broke my heart to tell him off to go to bed. I would have preferred to cuddle and listen to him about his week but he had to go to sleep. And the other? He woke just before 10 being thirsty, came downstairs and gave me the biggest smile and cuddle. That made my week!

Besides work and life, there are so many things going on in this world. Article 50 was triggered this week. That means Brexit gets real. There is no way back now and just as well I now have both nationalities. I am safe to chose but hope I never have to. As I mentioned before, the future doesn’t equal the past. With the world changing, we need to realise that years from now we might decide to move elsewhere. Maybe years from now I find myself applying for another nationality in a country far (or close) to home. One just doesn’t know. I will watch the next 2 or more years to see what is coming our way. We must stay flexible and vigilant, always trying to better the situation for us and the generations to follow. That’s our duty.

This weekend we did what the boys wanted to do for ages. They were so taken by the lambs last year, we had to go back this year. So we went to a farm to see the newly born lambs. What a lovely site. Also we saw a sheep giving birth, another one trying and a newly born calf. It was amazing to show the kids and even for us. I am not as taken with the little lambs as my family is, but it makes you think about the time your kids were born. How much effort it was and how much we were fearing for them and the mother. How much pain mother had to endure. It is good to be reminded, yet the main purpose was for the kids to cuddle with the little lambs. They absolutely loved it.

Tomorrow I am off to Germany again. I have taken a temporary assignment to help out leading the office in Hamburg. That not only makes me more busy, which is the part I mind less, but it takes time away from the family. Weekends have to make up for it and hence my wife and I, having known each other for 13 years this week, really plan the weekends and quality family time. So far so good. Easter break is around the corner.

So have a fantastic week, stay safe.
From my little corner of this world,
Volker

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Thursday Flash (13)

Flash….

Having been busy lately, I get to read less and less. But hey, there is no lack of good articles out there, and I pick and choose for you.

Management of Walking and Wandering around – this is an interesting concept and I am not sure if we need a theory around walking around for management. In other words, any manager should interact with their employees and direct reports. This should be a given. However, I also think wandering around the company, meeting people and chatting, does help you to gain trust and experience what employees are doing day to day. But another management theory around it, really?

Emotional Intelligence – every since writing my MBA thesis about it, I am fascinated by this topic. This is a good summary around being persuasive.

And last but certainly not least:

Martech/Adtech merger …. Madtech? I wrote about this on Linkedin. This article on Mediapost is a bit older yet ever so interesting to read. Multitouch. 2017 is a year of mergers…of adtech, martech, consultancies, technologies…

I love my industry, but you must have noticed that already.

See you in a flash πŸ˜‰

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Sunday Column (430)

If I look back at the weekend, this is last weekend, it was a great family weekend. I enjoyed myself, spend quality time with the boys and we even went for some Pokemon hunting. It gets the youngest out and keeps him entertained. I personally do not understand the game, but maybe I don’t have to anymore. Of course I am trying, trying to be the understanding daddy. I guess there will be a time in the future where I will be having more difficulties understanding what the youth is up to and of course how they use technology. On the other hand, I am speaking at more conferences explaining people what programmatic and predictive marketing can do.

Is that mad? Our company is at the forefront of digital advertising, using AI (Artificial Intelligence) and literally predicts the future. Moment by moment. Yet Pokemon Go gives me a headache πŸ˜‰ It is a funny old world out there. This week I went to Stockholm, then to Hamburg and back to London on Friday. Given the age of the kids, this got a lot easier for both of them and my wife and myself, for me to be away. So me travelling regularly to Germany for a temporary assignment won’t be too difficult, unless I travel the days my wife is working. But we can arrange and plan in advance. Exciting times ahead, challenging times ahead. Time to make sure the weekends are planned and well thought out, making it the quality time the family needs.

Given EasyJet’s 4 hour delay a couple of weeks ago, I will change airlines to then travel from Heathrow. This is another headache given the time it takes to go to Heathrow. However, I’d rather have a reliable airline than getting stuck somewhere. EasyJet has been great but the last trip was the straw that broke the camel’s back. 7 years of EasyJet Pluscard, regular European travel come to an end. You could argue I didn’t have many problems looking back, however problems seemed to be more common recently. Of course never say never, I might be back but don’t bank on it. Delays were just too often in the last two months, causing some not needed inconvenience. If the same happens with the new airline…I guess I am back πŸ˜‰ Watch this space. Eurowings, here I come. I just hope to get my passport soon, as not being able to go through the automated passport gates is a pain and took 30 minutes on Friday night πŸ™

I remember thinking travelling was glamorous but if you have done it for years, despite being used to it, it is not glamorous. It is fun sometimes, and it is great to travel upgraded on long distance, but really it is a pain. No matter how short the trip is. At least I stay in nice hotels with both saunas, fitness rooms and nice beds. Life isn’t all bad. And I look forward to the additional challenge looking after the German market for an interim period. Onwards and upwards. The me-time is nicer too. Whilst I normally get a lot of time to myself on the train, the time on a plane is better. No disruptions, no emails, no worries. I can work on presentations, read, or watch movies, sleep or catch up on emails without the inbox filling up again. This is nice. And it gave me another excuse to buy a messenger bag. I love my little bags πŸ˜‰

Sweden. I was in Stockholm for a day and a night to visit the local office. That was great. The Country Manager and I had a great time, good brainstorming and made progress on a presentation we needed to prepare. However, the stay was overshadowed by the terrorist attacks in London. I was glad to not be in London. We have survived 9/11, 7/7 and we will get through this period of time. The scary thing I suppose is that those attacks can happen anytime. At any one time someone could just drive a car into a crowd and launch an attack, in whichever form. And that is the unsettling bit. I guess we soldier on, and get on with our daily lives, hoping we won’t be affected ever. That’s the hope I suppose. But there are no guarantees, life could be over tomorrow.

But I don’t want to dampen any weekend or general (spring) moods. This weekend was sunny and I caught up on some proper boys time. Then it was Mother’s day. I almost missed it if a friend hadn’t pointed it out. Useless Marks and Spencer didn’t even allow me to order flowers for Sunday delivery, so I had to do it ‘manually’. Never mind, I am just too much dependent on online shopping. We had a great weekend!

Being back in Germany is interesting. I noticed how much I have changed since I moved away 16 years ago. My travel companions (you will remain unnamed) and I shared a lot of chat around corporate values, expectations and challenges. We are so aligned, that it is great to see the progress we are making. It’s those shared values and common understanding, hard work and fun that makes or breaks a job. Whilst I am still very ‘young’ within the company, I am still learning a lot, yet loving the challenge and the people I work with. Plus of course, we do have the best product out there. The share price has grown massively since I started (this is not necessarily a correlation) and it feels so good to be there.

Onwards and Upwards.
Have an amazing week ahead.
Volker

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Thursday Flash (12)

Flash….

Latest research suggest to NOT eat Bacon Sandwiches. Oh no, I just love those πŸ™

On the data front, I found this article about small data. An interesting point around more specific, maybe less scalable, however more accurate data. Would you agree?

And whilst I shared this before on my Sunday Column, I wanted to share it here again. You should read this article in the FT about Brexit and Citizenships.

Have a great day and please share this post if you liked it.

See you in a flash πŸ˜‰

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Sunday Column (429)

Last week was a turning point. I believe, and I mentioned that to my wife, that the next few weeks will be a turning point in our life. There are changes coming up, chapters being closed. I start writing this as I am sitting to wait for a delayed flight to Hamburg on Sunday night. So a week ago, prior to Sunday Column 428 being published. Crazy, but that is my creative output. I love writing, keeping myself busy with thinking and strategising. About anything and everything really. I was asked this week what my next book is about, and I said, probably it is about my life, or life or something. No plans yet…

At the weekend we started to speak more German at home. My wife started taking private tuition and the boys tried understanding what I am talking about. I translate the sentences simultaneously. This is only the beginning but we try to become more bi-lingual at home. The weekend was productive with us having done some spring gardening and we finally built the hedgehog house. It was a good weekend, the wife and I went out, maybe a few too many drinks, but hey, that happens now and then. Not many occasions when we can go out to celebrate. Then we had our yearly debate if St. Patrick’s day is actually the first time we met and kissed. Anyway, don’t let me get into that.

Further, I closed the chapter of writing a productivity book. I sent the final drafts off to publishers at Christmas but didn’t get a positive response. So I put it on Amazon Kindle on Sunday, a link is to the right of the post. It is free to download in the first week, but I decided to make little noise about it. A good read I find, and if people are interested, they will find it. I have other focus at the moment than productivity books and worked on them for a few years now. Time to put that to bed. So closing this chapter and focusing on other things is good. Maybe the new book about life πŸ˜‰

On the other hand I opened a chapter at work. Not only the first 30 minute presentation at a conference for this employer, but also in German! So a double challenge but it went well. So did the panel the next day. I am trying to help out where I can to present the company and hence I flew out to Germany on Sunday. I will continue to be in Germany more often, as I temporary help in the German market. It will be a drag flying, but it is going to be a lot of fun too and a great challenge. Having said that, I had to wait 4 hours for my Easyjet flight coming back, so no more Easyjet for me. The delays were getting to much and I am only back to travelling, so Heathrow it is unfortunately as it is a pain to get there for an early morning flight, and BA or Eurowings instead of Easyjet. The joys. Travelling is never glamorous, and I was hoping to do less, now probably going to do more. But I love a challenge, a chapter and the opportunity to help and support. That’s who I am, that’s what I do, that’s what I enjoy. And work is very good about it too!

As one chapter opens, another closes they say. I travelled with my German passport. I have done since I moved to the UK in 2001. Yet, since Wednesday, I can be hopeful to soon get the British passport too. I pledged my allegiance to the Queen and became a British national. Now I am British and German, soon with two passports. Wow, who would have guessed. It all happened quicker than anticipated in the end. And the application for the passport has been sent. Exciting times ahead. It feels like yesterday that a friend of mine and I discussed this, sitting over lunch in Farringdon. He said, now you know the process, it is easy to do and you don’t know what the future holds. It gives you security he said. He was right. Security and peace of mind. I beat him to it too πŸ˜‰

I feel at ease. I feel like spring cleaning my life a bit. I put a lot of energy into the new job and really enjoy the challenge. Is it much different to what I am used to? Yes and no. As a friend of mine said the other day: good tech, great people, and you realise how much you know and how much experience you have. Sometimes you don’t realise how much you know, but in this line of work I very much rely on my experience often and enjoy it. Yet, there are new challenges, different experiences, which help me grow and go outside of what I know. Keeping me on my toes. It is great to see the positive difference you can make. And a great team I have!

Then amongst the travel, I listened to a podcast by Tim Feriss, where one of his guests, John Crowley, who has children with a disease, talks about the IPO with his business. His business is in the biotech space to save humans like his children from this particular disease. When he came home after two weeks on the road after the IPO, his daughter woke up when he kissed her goodnight. He said she would be proud of what he has done. And she said, she was proud and that she saw him on TV. He said, what do you think of me on TV? She said he looked short.
In her next breath she asked whether he was around tomorrow to take her to school. That was the most important part for her.
I understand that feeling. The boys aren’t interested if I speak at a conference or close a mayor sales to bring home money to buy the Lego Deathstar (which I refuse to do btw). They care if I bring sweets or if I take them to school the next day. And that’s how it should be. It is important for me to be up at 6 am on a Sunday to do colouring in or build a model of Bumblebee. That should always be our focus, to spend time with our loved ones, to teach them, to help them, to be with them, to share moments with them. And with all the travel, and my wife planning to go back to work, this is still the main priority and focus. And we make it work, as we make anything work we want to make work. Just like turning a page in a book, we move on with life.

Of course we cannot be there 24/7. But when we are there, we need to be in the moment. We must be with them and make sure they see that. We must help them to understand the world and share the experience. I have done that a lot lately with my boys. Individually. Together. I feel better for it and so does my relationship with them.

Have a great week and give your loved ones a big hug.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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