Posts Tagged brexit

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 😉

, , ,

No Comments

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

, , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

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

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

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

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

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

, , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Sunday Column (422)

This week was rather busy. In a good sense. Learning, testing and evaluating. That’s for work and commute. My first full day of commuting and the trains went back to normal on Tuesday. Not sure what normal means anymore. I was late on a couple of days, minutes really, but at least I am now learning which trains I can or cannot use moving forward. Testing the new commute but at least my journey in London is quite predictable as the tube seems more reliable than the bus I used to take over the last 3 years. All change.

It also means I don’t see the kids that much. The youngest is up with me in the morning and we catch up, the oldest I see at night for a chat. It works. It is the life we are living with the decisions we made on commute and where we wanted to settle. A lot of other people in the business are in a similar situation. Yet, I still cannot accept the fact that Southern makes me look like I am late. It is the train 🙁 It isn’t me, I have no control over it. Anyway.

I was asked this week what my management style is. I believe, in a new job, this is a fair question. I asked my manager. It is very interesting to compare types of companies and different leadership styles and motivations. I so love to be back on the tech side, where people just get on with their work, everyone working towards the greater goal, no time for BS. And I love managing people, in a coaching and consultative style. I want them to do well, to develop and to succeed. I am of the opinion that if people in your team are doing well, you will do well yourself. That doesn’t mean I am not controlling, supervising or checking up. But I wouldn’t want to be micromanaging; why would anyone else wanted to be micromanaged? We are all intelligent and adults, no? Most anyway. It will take some time for the team to figure things out, and for myself, to find the best way of working together and making sure things get done. It is something called ‘trust’, and that builds over time. I always managed to build strong trusting relationships with my managers and my direct reports and teams. But for the time being, we made some organisational decisions this week. Full steam ahead, I am very excited.

Looking at the news this week there were two topics. One was around Brexit. The trigger of article 50 now needs to get parliament approval. I don’t think that changes much but it shows how the Supreme Court is not afraid to step up against the government. This in itself is a good sign as it shows a strong democracy. I personally think this won’t change things, but it might cause further delays. Hopefully I get my citizenship from the Home Office soon. Then my passport. Fingers crossed.

The other news are, and my Facebook feed is full of it, that Trump does want to build this wall to Mexico. The costs are horrendous, just to maintain it they estimate 2bn USD per annum. How many families could you feed with that? We had a wall in Germany for 40 years, and it won’t last and neither should it. You cannot separate people. People are always stronger than barricades, fear and walls for that matter. I am astonished. What is next? Segregation in the USA all over again? Please don’t do that to this world. We must stand together, worldwide, for the USA not to turn into a 4th Reich. We cannot let history repeats itself and must be cautious of populist movements across the globe. I am just a little person in the world, and I know that there are smarter, more influential people seeing this already. Yet, we should not forget and everyone can do a little towards peace, community and humanity.

This video from New York sends me the chills. #alwaysnewyork

Another advantage of my new routine is that I run and exercise a lot in the morning again. I feel fitter, watch what I eat (despite the free snacks in the office) and make sure I walk a lot. It seems to work, 3 weeks into the new year, and my weight is almost where I want it, but overall I just feel better and stronger. I also revisit some of the Anthony Robbins personal development ‘tapes’ and experiment with goal setting and focus exercises. My commute allows for a lot of studying and reading again, so watch this space moving forward. Although, I need to factor more time in to reflect and take it all in. One cannot learn and study all the time without reflecting and putting it into action.

A full packed week and weekend and looking forward it won’t change for a while. I love it. And this weekend… I got my battery in my phone replaced (FOC due to a manufacturing fault); the oldest had a sleep over and the youngest was properly spoiled by my wife and I 🙂 Happy days.

Have a great week ahead and don’t forget to share this blog if you enjoy reading it. Thanks.

Best,
Volker

, , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Sunday Column (419)

I hope you enjoyed my new blog post on Thursday: THURSDAY FLASH, where I wrote about what I enjoy reading, and which information I found useful over the past week.

And a quick reminder, if you enjoy this blog, please don’t forget to share the content forward:

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn

Funny picture for my blog

What is next?

What is happening in 2017?

We had the Brexit, Trump takes office, the world hasn’t really moved since the New Year. So essentially, we are still in 2016.
No! This year has already been busy. At least it has been for me. Constructive, forward looking meetings, discussions and idea exchanges. I am buzzing after this week about opportunities out there, and changes to come within the industry. The world. Let’s embrace the change and let’s make 2017 a never to forget year, for the right, positive reasons.

I am overwhelmed by the amount of good will, help and support in the community. What ever happens next, I will never forget and pay back to the community whenever I can. Thank you and a shout out to friends, helpers and mentors out there. One of the best meetings this week was a discussion around ‘gut feeling’ and ‘you know what is right’ with a very experienced industry veteran. We are all the same, and we just need to trust our guts more, our instincts, our bodies, our minds. They already know what is right and what is wrong for us. Interesting isn’t it?

What about my New Year resolutions?

I don’t have any to be honest. Why? I will continue to work out, and try to reduce my weight again and trim up. Get in shape. Work on a new exercise routine. So if I talk about weight, this means more physique/circumference/body shape than absolute weight itself. Weight itself is not as relevant, key for me are measurements and fitness level. Back at the end of 2015 I was measured to have the metabolic age of a 23 year old. Did I mention I turn 40 this year? My aim is that by summer I shall have a similar fitness level, eat more healthy again, drink less etc. The usual. And I will do that, as I have done it before, particularly as I haven’t really slipped up too much. I need more of a constant reminder. Every now and then I get a cold or a temperature and stop doing weights, it gets colder etc, but I always keep my fitness up. I am actually thinking of buying some more equipment for body resistance exercises in order to increase fitness levels. We shall see. I also aim to do another 24 hour race which I couldn’t do last year. So things moving along nicely on that front.

Then, the other big thing this year is to focus on family. I think I realised that living where we are living, having the job I love and the career I want, I need to focus on the weekends to spend time with the boys and my wife. The week is just not feasible to calculate arrival times for trains, particularly with the train strikes, and calculate work commitments. The only other way is to move and we are not going to do that. So weekends are family time, Monday to Friday is all about exercise, work and commute, latter being me-time with lots of readings and podcasts and personal development. Maybe another book to write 😉

Overall, I just want to improve my life style even further, progress with my career and give my family the best life. All I want is to make life work – based on our expectations, values and commitments. Simple really. And this is more ambitious than it sounds. Just think about it for a bit. I am not thinking I am demanding a lot, but it is complex to align everything that is going on in your life to make it ‘perfect’ (or close to it).

I constantly improve myself by working and checking against my quarterly goals and objectives. I track my progress and make amendments to both expectations and execution to achieve those objectives. My resolution is changing daily/monthly/quarterly, as I constantly try to better myself. I try to freshen up my toolkit on a weekly basis to sharpen the saw, as Covey would put it in the “7 habits of highly successful people”. My daily exercise, both physically and mentally, is part of that. A new addition is a daily journal to recap of what I appreciate in life. I use “Gratitude Journal”, the top one on this list of Gratitude Journals, for it.

And Dry January? I still hadn’t decided when I started writing this blog but had a glass of wine on Thursday. It is good to take some time off alcohol, but it isn’t as if I drink excessively. I enjoy a drink, particularly over Christmas and New Year, but during a ‘normal’ week, it is good to just have a glass or two every now and then to relax, chill out, or chat with people, being social. Nothing wrong with that. So on to 2017.

So that’s my blurb for the week really. A quiet, yet intensive and fairly busy start in the year. You might have seen my Thursday Flash which is my newest bulletin about articles I think are worth reading each week. I started collecting them and publish about three or so articles, related or not, that I found a useful read each week. Please let me know what you think.

Picking up the earlier comment again: A lot of things feel right at the moment. Some feel wrong. Some feel like they are moving in the right direction. Trust your feelings, and trust you being you. Because you are the one that knows you best.

Enjoy yourself,
Volker

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Sunday Column (413)

5f309118-f673-4b49-8abc-b7fc41ea0657-1374-0000031a2cfb6fa9_tmp

Friday. Around 2 pm and I am sitting on a train home. I have a half day and enjoying myself. Kind of. Light Up Hassocks awaits me. The yearly highlight of switching on the Christmas lights. I am doing the school pick up, my parents are coming. By time of posting this will all be past. It is nice to take a half day, get some initial work done, then chilling in the afternoon. Particularly at such a gorgeous day like today. It is almost too bright to work. And it is almost December too. And it got bitterly cold later on. Light up Hassocks was nice, the weekend with my parents was nice, so all good. The routine starts again tomorrow.

I summed up my life on Facebook on Friday, I thought I share it here. It sometimes feels that simple:

Ok. Left work early to attend light up Hassocks. Parade and lights and fair ground rides. Kids and parents and wife had a fab time. Feeling ripped off paying two months of pocket money on light sabres but hey, it’s for the greater good and the kids. When parents went to bed I finished off work and now reflecting on the day. Remembering the youngest saying ‘Daddy,I haven’t seen you all week and I don’t remember what you looked like’ (which isn’t true). But sometimes feels like it. And what if (not unlikely) Southern rails had had another 20 min delay on top of what they did. I would have had to have a contingency plan for pick up. I did. I didn’t need it. But I cannot trust Southern.
Doesn’t that sum up my life? Dominated by Southern (yet hey are not accountable or responsible), great friends and a full on life.
Enough for tonight. Weekend. Looking after the loved ones. Time to chill. Moaning over.

Maybe to add, a friend didn’t get home in time because his train was 40 minutes delayed. Life could be so much better without Southern, or with any reliable train service. I know I am going on about train travel but it is just so unreliable.

aecb0248-9c17-47a1-be6a-01e0b2c40170-1374-0000031bd1d0d482_tmp

Yet the week was kicking off with a media owner event. It was great, yet one thing I noticed (and no, it isn’t criticism): breakfast was from Pret. And so is most day’s breakfast if it is from a media owner or when I go into the office early, or when I have a quick snack for lunch or in between. Where is that obsession of us Brits (and want to be Brits) with Pret coming from? A quid for a decent brew of filter coffee, Apple pay accepted from day one, a sandwich for everybody’s taste, cookies that taste nice, breakfast that seems to cater for everyone and it is convenient too. Not one street corner without a Pret it seems. There is even a vegetarian one. The first one opened in 1986 and they look like a great corporate, with a CEO blog and apprenticeship schemes, organic food without additives, and used to be owned partly by MacDonalds. It’s sister company is Itsu, the up market sushi shop, which can be found most often in close proximity to a Pret. Maybe they need an agency, what a fantastic brand to work on and take to the next level. The love for standard good food seems to align us – the nation – in Pret 🙂 And I love the salmon and egg baguette for breakfast, unless I have a hungover and prefer their sausage muffins….yes, I am obsessed too 🙂

aea41441-5cc9-43ba-9081-bcb7f2e7f613-1374-0000031cec8c294c_tmp

Another phenomenon that kicked off this week seemed to be around programmatic. A few people keenly voiced their opinion on programmatic being overrated. I have said that before. Where are we with programmatic advertising? I did present that to a client too. Back in the days we were keen on having real time bidding (RTB) to make impression by impression decision making in real time via a bidder. Nowadays, we execute that and a lot more all from one single line item, highly targeted and across multiple channels. Whether that is real time or not, it is programmatic, it is traded in a programmable fashion. So what does that mean? The whole industry gets automated, and we call it programmatic – for some companies a great chance to be ‘specialists’ and to hide margins, for others it is just another acronym that confuses their clients. As a friend on Linkedin wrote this week: the bottom line is whether we answer the question what value we add to the client. And of course, this is a ‘yes we do’ or ‘no we don’t’. Yet the main differentiator is not whether we execute programmatic, but whether we know how to navigate the ecosystem, understand limitations of ‘make or buy’ and use data in a clever way to our clients’ advantage. That paired with excellent planning makes a good agency (and a few other ingredients). But this wasn’t supposed to be a sales pitch, yet my astonishment of how advertisers just cannot understand my part of the industry. So feel free to look up my Linkedin article on AI – take it with a pinch of salt – but aren’t we falling into a big trap of complicating things? And that is why some programmatic consultants still get paid a high day rate without being questioned. As you can clearly see, I am settling in well in agency land. It is time to get closer to clients and make them understand what adtech is all about!

Another theme, a red line throughout my conversations with some mentors and friends this week, suggests that there is more out there to which people and companies aspire to or should at least. As I reviewed my productivity book this week, where I am addressing those situations, I am wondering how to best help. How to best move things along vs. moving things up, vs. making the first move to take massive actions. Where I am leading with that isn’t quite obvious. I guess it is about doing your daily job and thinking beyond and taking over responsibility and accountability (spot a theme, Southern?). To perform beyond your duty and to use what’s in between your ears: no not your hair, your brain! To do what we preach and suggest to our kids. I see that across people and then across organisations. One changes the other, pushing the next. By being able to be consciously aware of what is actually happening around you, what happens in life, and how it is portrayed to you, how you portray things on the outside too. Exciting mind games, great discussions are fuelled on the back of these discussions I had this week. And it is exciting and it makes me grow and want more. I hope my book will reflect that too. And the more people I can get on board, the more exciting it gets for the journey along. It is about my 5 people I spend the most time with, they challenge me, they move me along.

And then there was the guy on the train, after a few beers, who explained to me how he works for a German bank, has an MBA, hates Brexit, worked in Switzerland and wrote a book. Lots of synergies there. We had a good yupp and catch up and I truly enjoyed speaking to him. These are those above random conversations that push you over, take over your thoughts and influence you. I might never meet the chap again, or maybe I will. But he would agree with all of the above and how you need to look in and take it beyond, and it all will fall into place eventually.

Enough of a brain-drain this week. Hope it was useful and sparked some thoughts.

Best wishes,
Volker

, , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments

Brexit again

I have been thinking about the Brexit again. Not only are we nearing parity with the Euro, we are wiping off money by delivering uncertainty to the markets.

My favourite topic, Brexit, got a new twist last week. Yet it was quickly withdrawn, the argument that every company should list their foreign workers. Blimey, this sounds to me like an outing of some kind. Discussing it with my Irish mate today, it feels like a counting of people with a different twist. Are we going to wear a certain sticker to identify us as non British? What is going on in this country I so felt settled in until the 23rd of June this year?

I am worried, admittedly, not that I cannot stay in this country, but what my chosen home country portraits to the outside world. Whilst I enjoy living here, what is Britain going to be like in a few years time? Nothing is forever, yet what if our plans to retire here won’t work out? Just as we finish the house, could we consider re-locating again, in 2019? Germany, New Zealand, America, Singapore?? I don’t know. There is a lot, if long term, uncertainty out there.

The six human needs have uncertainty as a need, but for me, I prefer certainty over uncertainty. I like my roots, my house, my home, and a regular routine. Doesn’t mean I am not flexible and cannot do my running at 4 am so I am not affected by the Southern train strike. Whilst I try to better myself in my job and my career and being a better dad on a daily, weekly, continuous basis, for my home and life, I like it to just stay the same and never change. Maybe that is an illusion.

That isn’t just me. A lot of people, I might even argue the majority of people are like that. A home, a castle and a place for the kids to grow up. A quality service of trains to and from work. A quality of life. Nothing else. Yes, the odd uncertainty if the exchanged Bose headphone will work better or if there is a problem with my phone. Is wireless bluetooth technology not good enough yet or is London full of interferences. But those uncertainties are fun in a way, geeky and solvable.

My cousin is going to visit from Singapore soon. She lived abroad a lot of her life time, e.g. away from Germany, yet she is happy and young, no kids, not as many roots and dependencies as us. But would re-locating kids mean un-rooting them? Surely not. But as my dad said, it is far too early to think about all that, as we got 2 years to brexit.

By that time, so I think, we will have no EU left. Then it doesn’t matter who threw the first stone. It doesn’t matter which side you are on, and where you live. Or does it? Guess time will tell, but only the uncertainty is certain I suppose. I love Britain, I chose to stay in this multicultural environment and form my life and career here. At the forefront of digital marketing, and I am hopeful, yet not certain, this will continue to be like that for a while.

Fingers crossed and let’s hope we get confidence back in the values Britain stands for: democracy, rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect/tolerance.

God bless the Queen!

, , , ,

No Comments

Sunday Column (406)

img_0517

It got frosty outside. The mornings are colder and you can see a nice layer of frost and fog covering the country side. Idyllic I’d say. As I start my morning commute, start writing this post, you can look at the fields and trees covered in white, cold fog. The sun starts burning holes into it as the day goes on, yet the picture is amazing. As so often I don’t get a chance to take one as we are flying past the pastures. Same as the week passes by. This week has been busy but good busy. I seem to be able to manage my work load and slowly get to grips with how things work. A few weeks in, and I enjoy my job more than ever. I feel like I have arrived, and I can move on from saying I have been weeks in the job to months in the job. It feels good.

It’s funny how your life plans out in front of you. Years of doing one thing, a change in industry, offers from the other side, then moving to the other side, further away from what you ever thought you would do….to end up closer to where you ever wanted to be. What else does life have in stock for us? What is planned? Where next? I mean, for now, I would be foolish to change anything and don’t have any ambitions to do so. But where will I be in 5 years? I have to think…but this is a long time to go. Seeing a little baby boy on Friday in the office made me think. 5 years is not a long time since my youngest (!) was filling his nappies.

Life moves very quickly. Just finishing renovating the house we remodelling our bedroom; I think we are done, yet the kids rooms are re-arranged, and before we know it the teenage posters are up and the doors shut. Let’s make use of every minute of our time with them. They are such a gift!

img_0518

How goes it? The voice of my friendly Southern Train Services station staff. Yes, those people are affected the same way we are by their company ….poor management and strikes causing grief across the organisation and commuters. On Monday someone was taken ill on a train and we shared a taxi from Haywards Heath. We as in the commuters. That was a bit of bonding, but you couldn’t blame Southern for it. You can however blame them for the poor service and three days of strike coming up next week. Will it go ahead? When do I start re-organising my trips, my exercise routine and evening appointments to make sure that those days aren’t turning into a night mare? WTF is going on – why can’t Southern sort it out. This week I found out a train was cancelled last minute to rush to the station to make my 9 am meeting. It is appalling and utterly disgusting to see a company not being able to sort out their staff and company issues. VERY poor management. Get rid of your top brass I’d say. It is not only the money and inconvenience, it is an attitude problem I have huge challenge with.

Just imagine I walked in on Monday and said to my boss ( 🙂 ) that I am going on strike…not only am I new in the job, he would hand me my P45 straight away. And rightly so. Fair enough, he treats me nicer than Southern seems to treat their staff, but that’s exactly the point. Never mind, my rant won’t help. The only thing that helps is to breathe in and out, and wonder WTF is going on. Never mind.

img_0519

Brace yourself for economic disruption. Yes, the strike is one thing, but the other one is Brexit. The pound is on an all time low. After our PM suggested the date of Brexit or article 50 being triggered to be in March 2017, the stock market lost enough money to push us down to 6th place of wealthy nations. Really? WTF. I started swearing a lot more recently. Can you tell? Do you understand why?

Article 50 will be triggered by end of Q1 next year, and then faith decides if I can stay. Why wouldn’t I? It is an insecurity, another burden. I would have until 2019. So that’s ok. By that time we might all be eligible to get American passports, who knows. No point of worrying. Despite, I am looking into Naturalisation. That means, if things go well, I should not have a problem to become a British citizen by maybe mid next year. However, the process is long, bureaucratic and time consuming as well as expensive. Patience Ballueder, patience.

In that sense I breathe in, and slowly breathe out. Time to move on and not worry about the things I cannot change anyway. Life is going to be ok. It is pretty good at the moment, not taking above into consideration 😉 I started reading Bruce Springsteen’s biography which made me revisit some old Pink Floyd and Bruce’s albums. Old times. When I had a bike and was a bit wilder than I am now. Those days I put on my biker jacket, the leather gear and just hit the road, see how far I could lean into curves and push boundaries. Crazy, yet it was nice. I sometimes wonder what it would be like today but the wifey isn’t allowing me to have bike no more. And she is probably right. No, she definitely is. So it might just have to be a smallish sports car, we shall see. I am not 40 yet.

Yet life is now. I am embracing it. Minute by minute. And I am enjoying it.

Best,
Volker

, , , , , ,

No Comments