Sunday Column (435)

Happy Birthday to me. The big 40!

So whilst I could write my normal blog, I remembered that I wanted to review my ‘inventory‘, I wrote in 2011. That’s now 6 years ago. A different time of my life.

Each Sunday the FT magazine publishes someone’s, usually public figures’, inventory. They ask about timeless things like

– Earliest Ambition
– Education
– Ambition and Talent
– IQ test

I won’t repeat them here, but then they also ask about things that might have changed. So 6 years on, reflection on my 40th birthday, let me revisit some of the questions.

3 ) Who is your mentor?

I still have several. From mentors I (in)voluntarily choose through work commits, I actively seek industry friends and heavy weights and try to regular connect with them. But also non-industry figures, to keep a good balance of inputs. This is important to me. As Jim Rohn says, you are the average of the five people you surround yourself with the most.

4 ) How physically fit are you?

This has changed. I have done some longer runs, just got new trainers that give me the right support. On average I probably run 30K a week plus some longer runs and weight/body resistance training. That wasn’t the case back when I first filed my inventory. I am fit, can be fitter but overall I am quite pleased. There are rumours about the first races too. I keep you posted.

7 ) How politically committed are you?

Now, 6 years on, I am British. Politics are back on the card to become more important. Time to get involved?

8 ) Do you consider your carbon footprint?

No, despite a lot of travel. Yet this is temporary I hope and difficult to offset. My commute is by train though!

9 ) Do you have more than one home?

I still don’t. Ask me again in 10 years, there are plans.

10 ) What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

Whilst I still follow Buddhist philosophy, meditate daily, I seek a Jaguar XJS. Maybe this year or next year, maybe never. We got the driveway for it, so the chances are increasing. Also, I tend to look at alternatives for the Skoda, upgrading it in 2018 maybe. Or instead of a Jag, getting an old Merc. Time will tell. Again, mid life crisis needs to be planned 😉

11 ) What is your biggest extravagance?

We moved, so a car isn’t the biggest extravagance any more. Having a second one would. Expensive wines, good food and an own treadmill, spoiling the boys and keeping the family happy. Nothing wrong with that I think. I am a man of simple pleasures. Time really is what you want more of and it is the biggest extravagance of everybody.

12 ) When are you happiest?

This probably will never change!
Being with my family: my wife, my two boys.

13 ) What ambition do you still have?

Below’s answer from 6 years ago (in italics) is still very valid. Leading a company across EMEA, looking after 100+ staff and exiting with a nice retirement fund, that would be great. Will the latter be the dream most people in the industry chase?
Maybe launching my own thing one day. But I keep saying that. I do enjoy what I am doing, that’s the main thing. I am progressing.

Making a difference in the world and work for the UN or another big charity, helping others. But before that I want to continue my career in media for a good while.

There are ambitions for my sons, for human kind too. But this would go too far I believe.

14 ) What drives you on?

The constant opportunity to learn and to improve other people’s careers. By doing so you grow as a manager/person and help your own career. The same principle is the same for bringing up your kids. Leading is tough but I do enjoy working with people and making a difference.

15 ) What is your greatest achievement of your life so far?

Writing my book and re-writing it in a better way whilst holding up a full time job. That and my family. I just like getting things done, having a productive 14 hour day, non-stop, just turns me up!
My weight loss, my fitness transformation, giving up smoking 20 years ago. Oh dear, I am getting old, things have changed. Look where I am at now. I have done ok, haven’t I?

16 ) What has been your greatest disappointment?

Not always seeing the obvious. Whether in life, family, job – being a bit naive and fearful. Fear doesn’t get you anywhere, being too uptight just hinders you.
But I am working on that daily and constantly. Going out of your comfort zone once a day, in person or in thoughts, gives you an edge. That’s what you want. Pushing boundaries and learning daily.

17 ) If your 20-year old self could see you now, what would he think?

Life never works out the way you think. Life is unpredictable, but you have mastered it well. Good job.
Or he would say: Told you, just a normal life like anyone else. But that’s ok, you have done well. Well done, mate.

18 ) If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

Start again. I am a fighter. – still true but could also be to pack my bags and go somewhere and do something completely different. Making a difference. Why not, you are only on this planet once. No reason to not change what you are doing half way, or less than half way hopefully 🙂

21 ) If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what you score?

9 – You must be happy with your life – and I am – but there is always room to improve. Never give up to pursue.

I hope you enjoyed this reflective post. This week saw more changes. Whilst I am still in Germany a couple nights a week, I am now taking the boys to a childminder so my wife can go back to work. This might mean for me to work from home more often and look after them too. Life is a constant change. Work is very supportive. We cannot and I personally don’t want to stand still.

I am not sure what the next 40 years hold. Where I am going to live. If I am going to live. Life is good. And it is there to be enjoyed. Medicine, technology and support is evolving. What is next in life? Whatever it is, we will be part of it. And that’s so exciting. Life is exciting. Daily. Sometimes I think that’s it, that’s where I belong and should be in my life. Then I get this urge, to progress, to do more. Oh life, I just love the way you are!

Let’s hope this isn’t half way, but with advancement in technology this might just be a third. We must think that way. Yet we also need to enjoy every moment. The good thing is, we don’t know. That means we should just live as best as we can. Daily. Focusing on the one thing that is important NOW.

Love and Kindness.

For he is a jolly good fella….

Have a smashing bank holiday and give your kids and partners a hug. Life is for living.
Volker