Posts Tagged brexit

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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Sunday Column (461)

No train on Monday. This week was half term, and I damn well enjoyed myself. Sorry, but I really did. Let’s start with last weekend, when on Sunday we went off to Bracknell to the UK’s longest water slide. A bit of shopping first, and then we headed to the pool, which turned out to be a bit disappointing and the slides a bit dangerous with both boys falling off the rafts inside the slides. Nevertheless, the swimming was fun, lots of water plays and two tired boys at night. That night I managed to sleep close to 10 hours myself and prior to that we had a great steak and chips evening in the Beef Eater adjacent to our Premier Inn. What a way to start a short vacation, and despite previous experience, the Premier Inn was really nice. And unlimited chips too (so much about my diet 🙂 ).

On Monday and Tuesday we were in Legoland. I so desperately wanted to stay in the hotel, that we decided to do that over half term and we chose an adventure room. It was fun, a great themed hotel room, a riddle to open the safe for a toy, and two days of rides and food. What not to enjoy? The possibility to spend time with my two boys and the wife was great. I haven’t had that for a long time and feel like I have been away too much travelling recently. But that is going to stop for a few weeks I suppose, that’s what I think anyway. So time to make up for it and even go down a roller coaster ride. Really? Yup, I did, but I didn’t enjoy it at all. And if I am not mistaken, it was the first time I ever went on a roller coaster. I know…I am a bit of a chicken when it comes to fairground rides. The Ninjago ride/game was great, despite the 90 minute queuing time and the laser ride in the pyramids was fun as well. Probably my two most favourite rides. Yes, Legoland is a great place to be, but after two days, I was done with it. I had enough to be honest. I was “lego-d” out. The most fascinating bit was probably the Star Wars exhibition.

The last day of my half term we went to London to get the boys new German passports. With Brexit lurking and the world being a not so safe place, you never know which passport will be best in the future. So off we went and also spend a sunny day on the Southbank. A boat ride, a relaxed swing on the exhibition in the Tate Modern and lots of tube and train journeys. Just what the boys enjoyed. We skipped the Emperial War Museum and saved it for a rainy day. Yes, another successful day, and three tired out boys in the family 🙂 Time to go back to work, so I did exactly that on Thursday. Not without having a huge pizza and some wine on Wednesday. Back to the diet as of tomorrow, right?!

At time of writing I am still looking back at the experience. What a fun packed week, and when leaving the house on Friday morning after my run, the boys and the wife were still asleep, catching up on the much needed sleep and dealing with the experience of the week. What fun we had! Even a few days away can make such a difference and on the back of it we ignited the Lego fun again. My wife organised a new shelf to organise the Lego and I got myself the BMW R1200 Lego Technic motorbike to build for the weekend. The boys and I put it together on Saturday and on the way I explained them how engines work, mechanics works and what traction for wheels is like. Time to get my hobby car, the Jaguar. Maybe next spring depending on the situation moving forward. We shall see.

As they say, life happens when you are busy making other plans.

And as I read the papers, the noise around a no Brexit deal is getting louder. There is a chance for Brexit, maybe even later than 2019, and there is a chance for a no Brexit deal or even a no Brexit. Two options to not go ahead, or really one to go ahead without a deal and one without a Brexit if that makes sense. I believe that slowly this country comes around and realises the implications a Brexit might have, and that already a lot of banks moved to Europe in order to avoid the uncertainty.

Uncertainty, whether one is out of a job, looking for the next step, waiting to hear about some results, or living in a country to exit a union, is never a good situation. It is, as it says, uncertainty. A situation where one doesn’t know what happens and naturally humans seek security and certainty. Yes, we also need uncertainty, and the 6 human needs clearly show it, but mostly in a controlled fashion in forms of adventure or entrepreneurship. We don’t want to live with constant uncertainty, at least most people don’t. In other words, living in a country with an uncertain future and having an uncertain future, is a combination that doesn’t make life easier. Should one stay or should one go, carry on or do something new? With every uncertainty comes opportunity and as my boss used to say, change is good. Life is good too, did you notice that? Where focus goes, energy flows.

I watched a video recently where, in an experiment, people were put on a line and everyone who had to never worry about money, always had food, always could go to school, never had to worry about a roof over their head etc. took a step forward for each of those priviliges. Priviliges they cannot even pat themselves on the back for. Having a warm home, enough food and the ability to learn gives my children a head start. I am glad I can provide that and hope that in the future I can do even more. Because they are my first priority in life, and nothing should ever change that.

So before I go on about uncertainty and priviliges, I look at the upcoming sun, with a mind like water, and trust that the universe will help me to get where I am supposed to be in the future.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world,
Volker

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Sunday Column (441)

Another Monday morning. Yes, this time it is Monday. I am squeezed between two fellow train passengers on the way o London. The train is busy, smelly, and someone’s phone is pinging every other minute. Can’t people just silent their devices. It is sunny and I try to balance my ipad on my knees.

After a busy weekend, where I got exhausted planting some plants in the garden, uncovering more stones, roots and relics from the past under our lawn, I am on my way back to work. No travel abroad this week which is nice. However, today it feels a bit like bravery. After the attacks on Saturday, terrorism once again came closer to home. I was in London 2005. London and Manchester. London again. This wasn’t the last time someone decides to strike. Our police force arrived and shot the terrorists within 8 minutes. Wow. I am impressed. In a city where you normally need that time to get out of the tube, this is impressive. London is prepared. And we Londoners, even if I live outside London, are not impressed yet don’t let it bother us. Or maybe it is better phrased to say we are bothered but we don’t change – terrorism will never rule our lives. It cannot given the place we live, the life we live – we all have a common conscious of where we are. Multi cultural living. Different nationalities. Different races and religion. All that has nothing to do with terror. Former is beauty and sign of mankind growing up.

Life will move on. Different people are dealing with it in different ways. Some better, some worse. We had endless discussions this week with people in the office and out of the office. People that just care and are humans. The election this week, how was it influenced by recent events. One can only guess and for me, I soldier on. I will not back down.

In other news we moved 5 years ago. What does that really mean? 5 years ago we packed our 2 up 2 down house in Beckenham, Kent, 20 minutes train ride to either Victoria or Charing Cross or Waterloo and moved to the sticks. We gave up the awful parking in our street, the ‘no access’ to our 15 ft garden, the airplane noise and dirt in the streets to move to the country side. 8 years we lived in Beckenham. Various flats and then the house which we bought on the height of the market. We made a small loss, yet recovered by buying a 4 bedroom house in Hassocks. The South Downs on our door step, 10 minutes to Brighton, 30 minutes to a nice beach, mountain biking, running, lifestyle, villages, village markets, quiet, cul-de-sac, off street parking, and the list goes on. We never made a better choice yet in our lives. Yes, maybe we move again, never say never, but for the time being, and besides last week’s post on everything can change, as far as I can see, we going to be here for another 10 years. Let’s see of course, if I can cope with the 1.5 hour commute that long.

My wife did another half marathon this weekend. Well done her. She caught the running bug and I am mighty proud of her achievements. This one was a special one for her, and a special one for me, spending the whole weekend, and I took a half day on Friday, with the boys. Boy, did we have fun!

A few thoughts on the General Election before I finish. I cast my vote via post. I have always done that, as I never know what I am up to on the day. So no last influences on me. I am proud to finally be able to vote in the country I have lived in for so long. I vote strategically, hence I am not voting for any of the bigger parties. Then maybe I should have. Anyway, it is done. There is change. As I keep saying, and my mentor Darren Hardy, there is no constant in life and things are evolving, progressing every single day. Will we continue with Brexit? Will we have another election? Time will tell.

Hope you had a great weekend,
Volker

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Sunday Column (440)

Another Monday morning flight it seems, yet given the late spring bank holiday Monday, it was actually a Tuesday. A short week to get as much done as in a normal week. The usual rush, stress, escalations, de-escalations and so on. Just another week. Ups and Downs. I have to say, and this is common knowledge, my learning curve is exponential at the moment. As much as I love it, I hate it too. LOL. I am fine, honestly, actually I couldn’t ask for anything else.

Easyjet was delayed, again. Incoming. The weather was the reason and as my German colleagues confirmed, it must have been a bad storm sweeping through Hamburg. Never mind. I am not minding the idea of travelling less, which I will do from July. June is still fairly busy with events coming up in Hamburg and Munich. Also I need to see some clients in Frankfurt and Duesseldorf. As stated last week, I need more focus in London and the boys and wife are fed up of me being away every week. And understandable so. There is a fun aspect too. And the boys love the Gummibears I am bringing home. There is an adventurous aspect to some extend, but not regarding the ‘commute’ but to be able to make a difference, to have an impact. So when I used to travel every other week to different cities in Europe, that was different to me travelling at the moment. Then it was more about helping and advising; now it is more about day-to-day, doing a job in a different town. Not sure that makes sense.

The weather last weekend, and how else could it have been on the last spring bank holiday, was mixed, rainy, muggy. My wife did another 10K run (well done) and the kids and I went to Tailgate park near Crawley. A great day out, lots to do for the kids and we escaped the rain. Just. Some board games, a relaxing afternoon nap, lots of food and a movie. Chill out time prior to the kids’ half term. They enjoying a week off. Just doing nothing, sleeping a lot, and watching movies. Pokemon hunts. Mine craft worlds. Yes, they are having a good time. Lucky them. Brighton, Indian, candy floss, new cloths.

In other news, I think I am getting closer to making a decision on which car to get. Unfortunately I had to rule out the old Mercedes due to the lack of seats in the back. So I am back to dwelling on the Jaguar XJS vs. XK8. Former is older, hence more maintenance and likely needing some electrics sorted at some point. The latter is younger, yet certain engines are having little problems, and the car is not yet a classic. Also it is on average about 1-2K cheaper. I got myself another book to see what the status is on either. Whilst I still need to save up the money, it is getting closer to deciding which car to get. Focus is key. And not getting too excited is key also. Latter is the more difficult part it seems.

Further we are contemplating holidays. So far we booked the summer ones, and for half term in October we booked Legoland. We (I) wanted to stay in the Legoland hotel and do a two day trip to the park. It will be lots of fun. But we still got a few days left before/after where we need to decide on an action plan. We contemplated to go to Hamburg, but now the wife wants to come too, having seen the miniature world on YouTube. So this is maybe for another time when we drive to Germany. This is more cost effective for 4 people. Let’s see. Maybe a few days down at the sea, some days over in Devon or Kent. I am not sure yet. I love staying in the UK and exploring my adopted home.

Whilst I have to say that I try to stay away from politics, it might be at the time to air some thoughts. I cannot see Corbyn being our PM. Yet, I cannot see May getting the absolute majority either. What that means for our country – maybe a hung parliament, a strong opposition and a new referendum? Maybe, and only maybe the future is wide open again. Who knows if in 6 months time we might pull out of Brexit and return to a Europe which will support us, maybe even adopting the Euro as a currency. You will call me crazy. And I am. Yet if I had told you 5 years ago that Britain will exit the European Union and that we have solar cells in every roof tile and cars that are electric and accelerate quicker than petrol cars….you know where I am getting at? We can’t tell the future.

And this is exactly my point. Life is fluid. I don’t know where and if I work in 12 months time. I don’t know if cancer hits me when I am 42, 45 or never. We don’t know how life plans out. What was standard last year, might be no standard this year. House prices are going down in the UK and we having more people renting. 10 years ago this was unheard of. Nothing stays the same and we are in the midst of it. And we need to embrace it.

It took me a while to learn all of that. And whilst it is bl* obvious, we don’t live like that. We, as humans, are pre-programmed to worry about the future. That is what we do. So it becomes more difficult to be a Buddhist and live in the moment. We can train to not fear the future but we naturally do. Because fear drives us on, uncertainty and new situations. If we start embracing this, we manage better, become more resilient and succeed. In life.

As I mentioned before, the evolutionary coaching book I am reading helps me understand the obvious. Yet we are struggling to comprehend or wanting to comprehend. We refuse to accept and instead strive to fight what we actually should embrace. If you asked me today, that’s why I would love to coach people. Helping high achievers to push through that barrier. Helping people in my team to move the goal post. Because we can.

Enough for today. How was your week 😉

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 (12)

Flash….

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

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 😉

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Sunday Column (428)

Another week. More travel. It seems as if the weeks just blur into one and I spend two days a week in a different place. I don’t mind, being away for a night, taking the Easyjet ‘bus’ from Gatwick to Europe. A 430 wake up call followed by a quick exercise routine, a meditation session, a shower and a ride to the airport. Then an almost two hour delay due to air traffic control strikes in France – I was on my way to Madrid. Those delays are annoying. Having just endured almost 12 months of conductor strikes on Southern Rail, I have no sympathy with anyone striking whatsoever. I keep saying it over and over again, I am thankful for the opportunities given to me in my life and wouldn’t want to jeopardise them due to strike actions or anything stupid like that. So I have little understanding for someone who would go to their employer and say ‘if you don’t do this, then we strike’. There are enough people out there that would take jobs and make it happen. Something I am missing?

Yes, there is an argument that if we didn’t have the unions, companies would do whatever they wish. They wouldn’t I don’t think. Companies have a keen interest in making their employees happy. To work with them, to empower them, to make work a nice thing to do. Maybe I am wearing some pink glasses here or something, but companies who are ‘abusive’ to their employees will not succeed. I cannot see that happen. Maybe I am listening to too many American podcasts suggesting that we are all in it together. That we can determine our destiny and people around us want to help us. We must be under that anticipation that an employer doesn’t want you to fail and want to do the utmost to make you happy and successful. After all they are spending money on you and your career. Mine does, and I am grateful for it.

Working in different places is critical. I love seeing the local teams, connecting and understanding the local challenges. Each market is unique, each view is different. Listen to their needs. It widens my horizon and gives me a chance to review what we are doing in HQ and whether we can change things, adopt some local practises, to improve things overall and to help moving the company forward. I enjoy that and believe it adds a lot of value to the company. I have another two weeks of travel ahead of me. Speaking at a conference in Germany which is tricky and challenging as it is a new corporate deck with a translation into German. I will master it and actually I am excited about it. Just in case I fly out the night before 😉 Then Sweden. Then I shall have a couple of weeks in the office before a family break over Easter. No flying then. As much as it is nice to travel, it is not glamorous and it does tire you out. At least I keep up my exercise routine and healthy eating (most of the time). Yet this week I felt a bit drained. The weather is to blame I guess?!

Further to travel this week I read an article in the FT about citizenships and Brexit. You can read it in detail yet the main take away for me was that if you lived here for long enough – and that is uninterrupted – you can continue to live here post Brexit. Or it should be fairly easy to get a passport/citizenship. Or you leave. I am not judging whether that is fair or not, but what I am saying is that if you have lived here long enough there is nothing you should fear. So why did I get the citizenship? Because I wanted to ensure I can stay and be with my family, plus I feel more British these days than German anyway. I don’t have plans to leave this country other than with my family and then we all would be foreigners elsewhere, on the same passport. That’s really it. I wanted to do it years ago but didn’t want to spend the money on it. Now I could and did it. The necessity felt slightly bigger of course. Anyway, this should all be done by next week.

If you feel I write too much about work, then please let me know. I just realised I wrote all about Brexit, travel and work without writing about work or family. If that makes sense? I love management studies, and I love work. That’s what I do and I enjoy it. Even my taxi driver said that, if he won the lottery, he would continue working. So would I, there is no way I could sit on my bum long enough doing nothing. I’d go up the walls. So I used the flight delay to catch up on some work, prepare a presentation, write part of this blog and think about life. I also caught up on some sleep mid air and arrived refreshed. Kind of anyway 😃

The remainder of the week was nice. It is nice to see trains running on time most of the time. It makes a huge difference to both my mood and my state of happiness. Plus the Friday ‘pale ale express’ session with the neighbours. Then I took the wife out for a meal on Saturday. Nothing fancy, just a very nice Thai place, a good chat and some ‘us time’. There is never enough of that once you got children. We are getting better in carving date nights out of our schedule, more than we used to. Then again the kids are getting older. Life becomes easier from a logistical point of view. Attitude, tantrums and questions and demands are the same pain as before, just different. Growing up I suppose 😃 Yes, I wouldn’t want it any other way!

I hope all is well with you and yours.
From our little corner of the world, I wish you lots of love and happiness.
Have an amazing week ahead, and please share this blog if you like it.
Volker

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Sunday Column (427)

This week was different. In a good way I suppose, given it started out with a lovely Sunday meal with the family. We celebrated my wife’s birthday and her finishing yet another half marathon. Well done. I am very proud of her achievements. I originally wanted to eat a salad but ended up with some nice winter warming comforting Pizza – so much about losing weight again. My training is going well, yet before the 24 hour race I should really shed a few more kilos. I guess consistency with weight exercise is needed and more discipline on the food side of things. I am trying. Maybe not hard enough but pushing myself in regards to making sure to complete three 10K runs a week.

On Tuesday/Wednesday I attended an internal conference where eating and drinking healthy wasn’t an option really. I mean, knowing HR is reading my blog ;-), there is always an option, but less discipline I guess. One night to make friends with up to 180 people from our international territory. That’s a lot of people to meet, a lot of networking. A great event though and speaking as well as listening to our CEO was encouraging. I love what I am doing and believe this company is right. We are on a journey and it is a journey I enjoy. People I enjoy. Amazing technology. We are winning. And no, I am not only writing this since HR is listening in. I am writing this as I think there are similarities between my CEO, my MD and myself. This sounds weird, but besides the early morning routines (this sounds weird, doesn’t it), we also seem to understand and enjoy business. Different level of experience of course and backgrounds, and motivations, but overall I can spot a theme. That’s amazing.

I had probably one of the shortest commutes from the conference. It happened in Brighton. So when I got home Wednesday afternoon I caught up on some sleep and then on some work. The next day I was back at my 5 am routine. It killed me at the conference given I was in bed very late and naturally woke by 5, but on Thursday my 10K was refreshing. I started my physio exercises again and taking ibuprofen, so I am hopeful to get on top of my leg pain soon. I also had 9 hours sleep that night which helped immensely to get back to normal.

The remainder of the week was rather busy. A lot of things to organise, conferences to prepare, personal stuff to sort out. Two weeks out from my citizenship ceremony, which I found out is free of charge after all, the government agreed that the status of EU citizens would not change post Brexit. I feel at ease knowing that soon I don’t have to worry about it anymore. No one likes dealing with government processes I don’t think. So putting it all to an end to apply for a passport will be nice. A bit of closure. Britain is home for me. Here is where my family is and here is where I belong.

Trains seem to run fine at the moment. I don’t want to jinx it but since I started my job 6 weeks ago, I can take a direct train again to get to the office for 9 am. That is nice. An easier commute, reliable most days and a more convenient one. However, the train is older and doesn’t cope that well with the old tracks. So slightly more uncomfortable. I find myself typing this blog on Thursday morning. A sunny day, a windy day. The wind woke me up a few times at night. Winter is not quite gone yet, and according to the calendar spring wont’ t start until 21 March. Despite my wife thinking it is the 1st of March. I look forward to the summer, to more fun with the boys. outside, sitting on the patio. To enjoy nature and nature’s warmth. To connect with the roots. But let’s not get sentimental.

Life has been good to us. I am pleased and happy with what we have. My life as a whole. The challenges it comes with. The love from my boys and discussions we have. The challenges we work through as parents. The ‘treadmill weekends’ of going to parties and entertaining the family. I enjoy to be able to help, to make a difference to things. I am content yet hungry for more. I am eager to step up and take on more. And hopefully I will eventually. With patience, consistency and integrity, I am confident to take things further. Life is great.

Have an amazing week ahead.
Best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (424)

What an amazing week I had. I spend my week with some amazing people seeing some amazing things. As I started writing this on my flight to San Diego on Monday, I am not sure why I use a cable for my wireless, bluetooth headphones. I had to connect my keyboard to my iPad via wireless bluetooth connection. Is that dangerous? I guess by time of reading this, you will know. I am, in all honesty, not the biggest fan of flying. I have done it a lot in the past, but not the long haul flights with 8 hours time difference. Yet it seems so easy and with enough planning you keep yourself busy. Having proper thinking time, going through endless podcasts and audiobooks and preparing presentations is not a bad thing. Not being connected and constantly interrupted. And the odd glass of champagne – I got an upgrade 😉 That also means I got some sleep both ways and the flights overall were very bearable.

All those “posh” things don’t matter too much to me tbh. I enjoy them, don’t get me wrong, but I am far too much down to earth. Hence I happily admit a tear jerker of a movie called Brooklyn which I watched last weekend. It was about an Irish lady that leaves home for America to fall in love. A simple story, yet ever so timely with Trump trying to ban immigrants. The quote at the end reads: And one day the sun will come out – you might not even notice straight away, it’ll be that faint. And then you’ll catch yourself thinking about something or someone who has no connection with the past. Someone who’s only yours. And you’ll realize… that this is where your life is.

It made me think. I arrived in the UK in 2001. As my teacher always said, when I came back from an exchange year in the USA in 1994, he didn’t think I would stay in Germany. Something had changed. I always wanted to go back stateside to live. Yet life hasn’t worked out like that, and I am far from complaining about the life I have. I am very happy. The wife is happy. The kids are and don’t want to live anywhere else either. That is nice. Yet, I sometimes wonder what if things had gone differently. But then we always will. And we make people in the country we move to ours, and whilst it feels like my wife has been part of my entire life, she has no connection to my past prior to me meeting her. That is odd but yet a lifetime since we met. The film definitely hit a spot.

In relations to that I got a letter whilst I was away: I become a British citizen! All application approved and I can pledge my allegiance to the Queen in the next couple of months to then get a British passport. So technically I am already a Brit I suppose. And a German. However, I keep both my German passport and my accent. It is good to know that I am not different to my family any more and I am part of what I have been living for the past 16 years. A new chapter I suppose, but I know where my life is. It is kind of an odd feeling. On the one hand it is a tick box in regards to Brexit and my life here, rather unimportant. On the other hand, you are giving up some of your identity (without loosing your German passport or nationality) and adopt more closeness to a country you chose to spend your life in. A bit of a step to become closer to things in this country. I cannot use my excuse of being a foreigner any longer either.

In other thoughts…when I was at the airport, going out, my youngest had a small accident. He hit his head, broken his glasses and my wife took him home. Nothing to worry about. You cannot be there all the time. But it is a shame that you cannot be there yet of course it is good that someone can. One thinks of what could happen on a long journey. Maybe I shouldn’t but I did. What if… The wife and I discussed it, and yet, we aren’t worried. We are both people that get on with life, we succeed in life. And if anything might happen, this would just be the end of the world for one. The other one moves on, gets on with life. But let’s not even think about it.

I enjoyed the companies of my colleagues on the trip. I am not only saying that but I do feel home. Friends in the industry, good guys, friendly, helpful and they are looking after me. I am still the new guy, ain’t I? It feels longer than 3 weeks. It’s good. It’s fun and I genuinely enjoy the new company. It is nice to feel welcomed and at home, thinking I can add value. The camaraderie, them making me sing my first karaoke in my life and us enjoying ourselves sitting in the sun in San Diego after a few exhausting conference days. I even got a sunburn. We went to the gym most mornings being jet lagged, had some good wine but never really stepped over the line. We met the CEO who is great and down to earth. I met with lots of colleagues from the US. It was amazing and I cannot wait to go back and learn more. Some of the stuff I saw in terms of technology is mind boggling. I am very excited to be part of the company’s journey!

Then it was my son’s 6th birthday party, and my dad’s birthday too. I arrived just in time for the cake. Jet lagged, tired, exhausted, sun burned and knackered. But nothing of that mattered the moment I got the longest hug in the world. The biggest kiss, him telling me all about what he has been up to since I left. And the other one too! We cheated a bit and didn’t get him any toys from the US as it would have been too much hassle to organise last minute with the delivery and all. So instead we ordered some PJs pretending they were from the US. Never mind, when you read this when you are older you will probably kick a fuss yet understand it. And I didn’t really say they came from the US anyway. So you will understand or might not even remember. You didn’t mind and were the happiest boys in the world. Boy did I miss my family this week!

It was a tiresome week. A kick off to a few weeks travelling. A kick off to my new job. A kick off to enjoying world traveller status. A well spent week. Thank you, yet it is good to be home.

Have a fantastic week everyone, love to you all,
Volker

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Sunday Column (423)

Loads happening this week. Late nights working, getting my feet under the table, early morning runs and getting stuff done. Yes, I had a fantastic week. Busy busy but also demanding and tiring. All good, all happening. I am enjoying myself!

My highlight, clearly 🙂 , was an unexpected meeting with my old ‘boss’. I haven’t seen him for 10+ months, he was in town, and we discussed life, work and what it is worth living for. It wasn’t all sentimental, but it was. A great mentor and friend, it was so good to see him again. I know you are reading that, and hope to meet up again soon. Good to see you!

My lowlight on the other hand was the whole story around Trump. I guess that was everybody’s lowlight, no? Segmenting people because of religious belief, origin or maybe even colour of skin? I thought human kind, being German in particular, passed that stage. I don’t want a 4th Reich, another Fuehrer that ends up causing a world war. Peter Maffay, a German (refugee from Romania btw), sang in his song “It’s time” about signals show red, the piper leads you to death, it’s time to realise and look around you, all signs point towards war. I don’t want a 4th Reich, no destruction and war. I freely translated this and think it is so valid, given it was written a while back. Why….why would anyone do what Trump set out to do? I see danger ahead. I feel fear. Yet I also feel encouraged that the supreme court in the US is stepping in and ruling above the president. That’s how democracy should work, similar to the UK re Brexit. Even if the outcome doesn’t change in this instance, we have tried to make sure we are holding up our values of democracy. Yet what the US government is trying just seems to utterly wrong.

On another note, the train services are back to normal and more reliable. One day of delays but particularly evening services are going ok. It is nice to relax a bit more about getting home. Particularly when the weather is wet, cold and you just come from the pub 😉 On the note of weather, my cold didn’t allow me to train as hard as I wanted to this week. I cannot wait for the weather to warm up a bit and me hitting the gym harder again. And I got outdoor, muddy weather, running shoes. I cannot wait to try those bad boys out either. It’s going to be a fun year in terms of exercise I think. Not sure what I plan besides the 24 hour race… but time will tell.

My biggest compliment this week: I am happy, said the wife. She has done well to get a job, so things are falling into place. We renewed our mortgage for the next 5 year on a good rate and we are sorting some other bits out. Winning I think. At least from our perspective. We are happy as a family, and love where we are living. I managed to spend some time with the kids this week, yet R was ill and it was a bit difficult around that. But we managed in the interest of all of us. I couldn’t be more on top of the world at the moment.

I also listened to Kara Swisher being interviewed by Tim Ferris. She mentioned that one of her regrets, if I didn’t misheard, was that she wasn’t as passionate about her kids/family as she was with her job. I am not sure if I am similar. I love my kids to bits, so does Kara, yet we sometimes put work first, and this isn’t right. And it is difficult to understand or for anyone to accept unless you feel similar. I know a few people like that, and it doesn’t mean they do not love their kids, it is more about being so driven in a job, that it seems to overtake everything else sometimes. It is as if you were as passionate about your kids and could spend 50 hours a week with them, it would be awesome too. But we seem to enjoy the work we are doing, and it ultimately benefits the family and kids too. I will be working on that, improve on it, being more mindful. It isn’t a bad thing, it is a thought of priority and passion. And passion is there, priority is difficult sometimes. I am on it.

And on that not, there is nothing like getting this 2 minute hug from your youngest in the morning before going to work. To chat with your 7 year old about how he solved the Rubix cube. To see them succeed and better what we never achieved. You want them to win, be part of what they do. That ignites my passion. I often think of them during the day, what they would be up to in school and what would they be playing just now. And I trust them being young intelligent human beings, making their own decisions. They are growing up far too quickly.

I cannot wait to take them to my new office. To show them around the free snacks area 🙂 To let them draw on the whiteboard wall (paint) in the board room and look at all the goodies we have. They will just love it. Half term is near! I want them to be involved in what I do as I am getting more involved in what they do.

Life is good. I am happy and content and feel like things have just began.

From my little corner of the world,
Volker

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