Tag: change

Winning

Ballueder Thinks (5) – Marathon and Stamina

It has been another couple of weeks since my last column. Quite frankly, I have been super busy doing things. However, the hassle and bustle hasn’t really equated into the progress I was hoping for, which is why I am always looking for new opportunities. Things are slow, decision making takes time, and building things needs stamina. To be honest, it is like running a marathon, life isn’t a sprint.

Marathon

However, things are looking good, and I am not complaining. Covid19 has slowed businesses down, everything takes longer, but it all should come good in the end. Stay positive. One dream has been parked for now, but parking doesn’t mean abandoning. I don’t want to be too specific, but my brain is buzzing thinking about a few things – as it always is – and I will soon launch a new positioning and website under www.balluederpartners.com – my new home for my business. Never a dull moment in the Ballueder world 😉

Feel free to reach out and let me know what you are up to, and how my strategic and commercial head can help you to position your company, take it to market or scale it. That’s what I do, from hands-on to process, to strategy, to building successful teams. And if you have idea, I am always happy to chat, network and put my ideas forward. Over the past few weeks, I had some interesting networking opportunities, and hopefully these all lead to something. If nothing else, I already helped a few people connect to relevant others. Let’s keep doing that, we are all in it together.

But enough about work, and stamina at work. It would probably benefit me to take a couple of weeks off anyway. Maybe I will …. but I probably won’t 😉

The thing I want to talk more about in this post, is my involvement in the London Marathon. Of course, we know that charities have been hit hard with Covid19, e.g. funding has dried up and events have slowed down or moved online. In short, they need any penny they can get. Hence, when the RNIB, the Royal National Institute for the Blind asked me if I could run the London Marathon in 12 weeks time, I didn’t hesitate. Yes, I want to raise money and I want to run London. Simple.

RNIB

My Justgiving page is set up for £2,500 – I hope to raise a lot more but of course I need your help. I believe a few of my contacts don’t want to donate because they don’t know if the marathon goes ahead. But, and that is my promise, I will run the full distance of a marathon on the weekend of the 3rd/4th of October if we raise £2,000 by the end of August. Hopefully, we fill the pot on the October weekend, and then some more when I run the actual event in 2021. Or, maybe it will happen in October regardless. Nothing is certain at the moment, I know the Toronto marathon went virtual – now there is an idea.

I have always been a networker, and I know a lot of people. In simple maths terms, everyone I know on Linkedin has to donate 25 pence for this to happen. With most of my stronger network connections being able to afford a £5 or £10 donation, and some have been a lot more generous already, we should hit the target easily. And that is discounting people that don’t donate, or don’t donate to this charity etc. And that’s fine too. Yes, this is an analytical approach, and maybe too simplified, but it can be done. We learned during Covid, that if we combine forces, we are a lot stronger!

So please give generously, make me run in October and next year, help me to develop stamina, and help the RNIB to help people. Everyone wins! If there is anything I never want to take for granted, then that’s my eye site. Read the full story here.

I have been running for a while, and I did 3 half marathons during lock down. Hence I am confident to manage the race. Yet there is a lot of stamina still to be build. This week I did another 18K or 1:45 long run. Tempo and Intervall runs. Next week will be more. My legs are hurting at time of writing, and I committed to more running next week. I will not stop if you don’t stop donating! The next 10 weeks will be hard, very hard. I trained for my last marathon during the summer, the heat is gruelling, even at 5 am! I am aiming to improve my time from the last event, and really go for it. What a fool I am 😉 It’s about being able to run the whole distance this time, and finish around the 4:15 mark, possibly quicker if I feel up for it on the day. Please help me.

Winning

If I am known for anything then that’s stamina, discipline and hard work. Patience. I don’t easily give up, I fall down 7 times, I get up 8 times. The tattoo is booked btw, if you remember my earlier column about this. That’s who I am, and I am super disciplined. I get up at 5 am for 5 years, exercise, meditate and get ready for the day. As a matter of fact, it is early morning when I write this column.

Discipline and stamina got me where I am. Yet, things change all the time. Career wise I have been realising that I am drawn back into my first two loves: search/social and sales.

I remember putting a proposal together in 2008 how to launch the social media arm of an agency. Wow, we came a long way. One of my old companies, 4C Insights, just sold this week to Mediaocean. I love that space, and when I look at my career over the past 5 years, I moved from sales into sales management, client services, strategy and back into sales. Actually, I now have the tools and experience of a CRO, which helps companies to put their proposition on the map, whilst also look strategy and execution. Plus, this is a transferable skill across industries. It’s experience that counts!

There was one last thought I had this week. The summer holidays started. So we are back at March, without the home schooling. The wife works, and I am at home, juggling work and kids. But that’s ok. My boys are older. However, one just finished middle school. We were sitting in the park after school yesterday, and I said, that when he finishes the next school, he won’t be interested sitting with his dad in the park. His next 5 years or so will determine who he will become, what he wants to do in life, and who he will rebel against. It’s a big step, and I am ready to take it on. As a mentor, parent, coach – I want to be by his side and guide him. It’s a different world to where we or my parents grew up, change is constant. Sometimes it is difficult for us to change. I know that my parents generation didn’t respond as well to change, as they didn’t expect too much change. Does that make sense? We have a more powerful computer in our pocket than the thing that landed us on the moon. We call them phones.

Change will accelerate. Covid19 is the beginning of the change that will permanently influence how we work, live, and where we set priorities. Hopefully for the better. We might see more evil coming out of it, or it will go away as a warning. Who knows. I am not a philosopher. As a collective, and with a greater conscious, this period in history will change things forever. The way we greet people, meet people, trust people and what we think is important. We will look back at this time in years to come.

I am getting used to change. Mindfulness grounds me in the moment. My weekly groups help me to challenge my thinking. There is so much opportunity to go deeper and become better, as a human, as a father, at things you do. Nothing stands still, and the thing we need is stamina. I say it again, life is a marathon, not a sprint. Building blocks of things to put together to make it to the finish line. And sometimes we need to drift out of our way to reach our goal. But stay focused, with stamina, a positive outlook, hard work, and a marathon running attitude, you will be successful ! Have faith. Trust in yourself!

Have a good Sunday, and if you have a minute, I appreciate any donations for the RNIB. Because you know I am going to run it.

Thanks in advance. Volker

Ballueder Thinks (1) – Covid19 Column

Hello.

The regular reader knows that for over 10 years I have been writing a Sunday Column. I kind of replaced it with my podcast, now with some videos on Linkedin. But that’s just not the same.

Let’s face it, I do love writing. No question about that. In my strength coaching profile, ‘writing’ was a number one skill. I am not sure if that is due to my academic background, or due to my intellect. And I am not saying that in any arrogant fashion, but I love thinking about the world, and making connections of how things work.

Just this weekend, I listened to a model called ‘disruption mapping’. Any input that clarifies thinking, any model that helps you to simplify trends is great. More about the mapping soon on my podcast in season 4.

Anyhow, after a few weeks pause of writing about my life, I am back on it. I am not promising a regular column. But if there are a lot of things going on in my head, I kind of need to get them out. And I like processing things that are on my mind through writing. Yet, whilst I write a daily gratitude journal for myself, I want to share my thoughts with you in form of a column.

What I am thinking at the moment? Black lives matter. I am actually speechless that in 2020 people are still thinking that there would be any superiority of one race over another. Whether that is white over black, or one belief over another. This is just something totally incomprehensible for me. Again, earlier this weekend I wrote an article about mindfulness and how it might not fit with a ‘male stereotypical picture’ – again it is totally wrong to think about those stigmas. But, of course, we grew up with that. It reminded me of the movie ‘Philadelphia’ where the ‘white collar, old grey haired lawyers’ sit in the sauna cracking jokes about gay people. This used to be acceptable, but in my opinion is now out of fashion. At least in circles I socialise. So let’s hope that this will once and for all put this inequality to rest, and no more lives will be lost. I am disgusted.

I am also thinking of Covid19. For me, having the Aufbruchstimmung, or in English the Spirit of Optimism, I think it is over. We should get back to work, even if it is 99% remote, and that we need to move on, make decisions and get back to work. Maybe I think it is too easy to do. But what stops us from doing so? Some industries, hospitality for instance, will have difficulties, but some other industries should easily be able to work remotely and do business in a remote fashion, powered by Zoom. Btw Zoom, their share price jumped 90% on going public, good on them. But yes, let’s move on.

And what about my job. Oh….there is a lot I can tell you about. There is this fear of a recession and then Brexit and all. But again, we must think positive, stay fearless and move onwards. It is about making decisions and moving forward. I am in the process of launching something new, adding a new contract to my portfolio and continue with coaching and mindfulness trainings. So I am keeping busy. I will of course share some more news in the weeks to come. But I am very excited. With every fear and downturn, there is an opportunity! To my knowledge, this is what crisis means in Chinese.

I couldn’t give up. Falling down 7 times, standing up 8 times. Let me into a secret. As soon as the tattoo shops will open, I am on there to get this tattooed. Silly? Mid-Life crisis? Maybe. Whatever you fancy, just go for it.
Earlier this year I had some transformational therapy to rid myself of some limitations and limiting belief. I couldn’t recommend this more. I have tried a few over the years, this one was great. There is nothing like experimenting with different forms of therapies. Yes, I have to say that my best therapy is meditation, which I practise daily. Without meditation, and without the love of certain people, I don’t think I would have achieved what I have achieved. Life takes turns, my industry has been full of redundancies and change, but I have mastered it. Without mental health issues. But, looking back, and as explored in a recent podcast, I think I have been sailing very closely to the wind. I sometimes think that my meditation is like a sail that helped me to stay on this side of the storm. Hence, I am so passionate to teach people about it.

And then the lockdown. We are all struggling. Juggling home schooling, family, jobs, progression in jobs, interviews, zoom calls, and the earlier evenings which leave more time for drinks. I have been keeping fit, with 3 half marathons so far during lockdown. I do my weight exercises and added more to the regime, hoping to rid myself of the Covid-Stone. A term I coined for the additional weight I have put on. It’s just too easy to snack all day long. With the return of school runs, I am getting more walking time in again, which is good of course. And, personally, I think it’s a good thing that school returned.

Fingers crossed we are out of the worse and Covid19 will disappear, just burn off over the summer. That’s what I am hoping for. And will we learn anything?

What have we forgotten over the past few weeks?

Brexit.
Whilst the topic is slowly coming back to us in the press, let’s keep a close eye on it. I am still not a friend, but we have to live with it I suppose. A friend of mine posted something awful about the background and intention of the Tories behind Brexit, which I a) don’t want to repeat and b) hope it isn’t true. If it was, I would think this country is going down big time. Let’s hope this isn’t the case. We handled Covid19 very badly from a political and preparedness point of view, so if we handle Brexit the same, this is going to be really bad!

Dom Cummings.
Is he still the Chief Advisor to our PM? This is so bad. Sorry, I am speechless to think that he gets away with it. Not having a backbone to step down and admitting that he f* up. That’s what I don’t get with leaders. I learned early in my life to owe up to mistakes and apologise and trying to make it right. It’s a fundamental lesson I teach my children. For me this says it all about our government, prime minister and political situation. I am actually becoming a big fan of Kerr Starmer, the Labour and opposition leader. There is hope! There is always hope.

And what about ocean pollution?
Will we think about recycling still when Covid19 is over? And how to clean our oceans? Or is that all forgotten? Will we, post Covid19, go back to normal and just pollute our planet, take unnecessary flights, treat others with disrespect and carry on? I hope not. There is always hope.

Over the weeks and months to come I want to pick up more regular writing again. I would enjoy hearing from you what you think. I’d like to hear what your opinion is, so feel free to reach out to me by whatever means works for you.

I enjoy writing.
I want to share.
I want to get you to think.

Thanks, and please stay safe,
Volke

What is your agenda 2020? How can Coaching help you?

For those of us that have been around for a while, you might remember the EU member states agreeing on the agenda 2020, looking at principles, priorities and approaches for their youth policy strategy. Now, with the year coming to an end, you should think about what your agenda is for 2020, and how coaching might benefit your strategy.

Agenda 2020

I have been involved in personal development since the early naughties, gaining a Master Practitioner in NLP in 2003 and subsequently dismissing EQ (Emotional Intelligence) as a fad in 2004 during my MBA thesis. I thought both approaches were common sense, being aware of yourself, striving for being better and having a growth mindset. Always giving your best and defining your goals, reviewing them and making plans. This, as I know now, looking back at 15 years working in a corporate career and with technology start ups, isn’t the case. People don’t apply common sense, not every manager is emotional aware, and yes, I have seen printers and fax machines being thrown through the office. It is time to understand what the workplace really needs!

Hence, after coaching teams, executives and advising businesses and boards on strategic positioning and outcomes for over 10 years, I now want to dedicate 100% of my time doing just that. That’s my agenda 2020. Being there to help leaders to achieve more, increase the ROI by developing executives in their career, leadership qualities and helping them to improve the output of their teams.

With the rise of mental health awareness, we are more mindful and aware of both emotions and our mental state. Therefore ‘Emotional Awareness’ starts with you. Whilst you might never be able to 100% control yourself, there are ways to do so most of the time. It all starts with self awareness and spreads out to awareness of others, teams, managers and subordinates. You will soon find that EQ gives you a choice of how to react to situations and how to approach the next steps in your life – whether that is your career or your personal goals.

In the last few years, the term mindfulness comes up more often. Originated somewhere amongst Buddhist meditation, Emotional Intelligence and Yoga, the principles of mindfulness help in the workplace. Science proves that the use of meditation changes your brain in a way that you are more logical thinking, make better decisions and have less of an emotional response. In my opinion, the theories of EQ and Mindfulness are merging to something I like to call the ‘New Mindfulness’.

We are living in times where there is information overload. We don’t get to spend enough time with our families, the work-life or life-life balance is missing, and we are out of sync with ourselves. On the back of that we see an increase in mental health problems, and stress related illnesses. However, there is a cure: new mindfulness can combat all that and more, making you better at deciding what to think.

I recently published my already best selling book Principles for Success, which amongst the principles list mindfulness and EQ. This is based on my podcast, where I interview high performers, CEO and executive coaches, leadership experts, and successful people about what they do differently and how they became successful. My compulsory question is ‘how do you define success’, and the answers are very subjective. But this is the same if I asked you, how your agenda 2020 is looking like?

What is on your agenda for next year? What are your plans, goals and objectives? Which actions are you taking to achieve those? Who holds you accountable for it?

In order to implement mindfulness in organisations, to drive EQ adoption and change the culture in your company, we need to talk about coaching. From the top down, executive coaching, team coaching and goal as well as value alignment. This is not a quick fix but a fundamental company change. And if you prefer, call it leadership skill training, or strategic board advisory, as that is where it starts. But it is worth it. Change Management. The benefits of engagement from your teams are well worth the time and effort you put in.

I often get asked why or if coaching helps. And you can do the google search yourself, but the general consensus is what I see with my clients. The outside in perspective, being able to be a sounding board, and listening deep into what is going on under the surface. A coach asks the right questions and distils the information needed to bring on change. A coach challenges you, and makes you do the work, holding you accountable for your goals, strategy and objectives. We are here to support you on your way, having those difficult discussions that result in you performing better, whether that is at work or at home, your life.

How about gaining back the work-life balance and getting your career back on track? Increasing your self esteem, and gain the confidence that propels you towards your goals. Identify your strengths, so you can play towards them. Build a team that compliments each other, so you can delegate more, and trust them more too. We are here to maximise your potential and bring your team to the next level.

If you are interested in finding out more or would like a no obligation chat, please contact me on volker@ballueder.com

All the best for 2020 and beyond!

Sunday Column (521) – the end for now

Farewell, Goodbye and Amen. That’s how Hawkeye Pierce said goodbye to his friends at MASH. I adore Hawkeye and loved MASH and think the same. It’s not a goodbye though, it is a creative reshuffle, to focus more on my podcast and less on the weekly blog. So please check out my podcast where I continue to interview successful people for their Stories of Success.

Looking back over the past 10 years when I started this blog, my wife was just pregnant with our first boy. I am reviewing the blog for a book that I shall publish at some point in the future. It is about 10 years of blogging and this is the final chapter. It covers my first redundancy in 2009. Before that it was me making the decision. Then it covers the next redundancies in 2013, 2016, and 2017. 3 out of 4 redundancies were after an exit through a US company buying themselves into the European market and technology. 2009 was due to the recession. Unfortunately this is how the cookie crumbles for mid management in our industry.

It is funny to look back, and this year alone, I learned so much about consulting vs. working full time for a company. It was bad timing with GDPR but in the end I had 4 permanent offers. I made the right choice, and as I recently read, there is always a higher purpose for the choices you make. I will look back to 2018 and the next few years in this job and realise the huge opportunity that was given to me. As I look back to 2010 when I made one of the most important career decisions ever.

What is missing in my blog is people dying. This sounds terrible but I have been extremely fortunate that no one very close to me has died in the last 10 years. My grand parents died long before I started the blog, my MIL’s mum before that too, and my other granny is hanging on with being 98 now! Some industry friends have moved on though. This experience will come to us as well, probably sooner than we wish yet it is fantastic to have so many people still around. I am feeling blessed and apologise for the morbid thought 🙂

I ran a marathon and woke up neighbours being on the treadmill. I lost weight and put it back on again. We moved houses and got a new car. We decided on where to settle and how to live our lives. See last week’s post on that thought. The blog is full of those memories, the trips to foreign countries, the fear of change. The change. Full stop. Whenever I read another post from years ago, I remember where I was, what I did, and it brings back some vivid memories. This is my life. But this is only a 10 year snapshot, 25% of what I should remember of my life.

I have always enjoyed writing this blog. It gave me an outlet, and I anticipate that I will continue to write the odd post, maybe once a month. Maybe I call it the ‘New Column’ or ‘News from the world of Volker’. I will not be gone, I am just re-focusing. My energy is bundled and ready to put elsewhere. Books. Development. Kids. There is so much I could tell you about life, that I will start my ‘Volker book’ soon. Yet it will take years to finish, I am not in a rush, I am not even half way. That’s what I hope anyway. Remember, 120 years we got…

Christmas is around the corner. I am a grinch. I don’t believe in Santa Claus or cutting trees, or putting up decorations. I don’t believe in God or the Jesus child either. I believe in the quiet time and having the fire on, drinking a hot chocolate, a coffee, an Old Fashioned or an amazing glass of wine. I like to overeat, and go for a walk, slumber by the fire and have chats with friends and family. I enjoy the relaxing time. I cannot wait.

And once Christmas is over, it is going to be 2019. The year before 2020. Latter was a big date growing up. It was in the future, flying cars and all. It still is. The future is near though. A new year, a new beginning, new goals, new focus. Given my personal development background, it won’t be all new, because if I wanted to change something, I did it today. That’s why quitting smoking on New Year’s Eve hardly ever works. You need to quit when you are ready, not when the calendar year turns. It would be coincidental if those dates align. Anyway, enough said I suppose.

I want to say thank you. Not least to all the readers but also to my wife for giving me honest feedback for 10 years on those posts. For people telling me how much they enjoyed the columns and how human it made me. I am just a normal bloke, yet ambitious, German living in the UK, married to a Scottish lass, and I love to write. That’s it. I have an opinion and this was my outlet. So thanks for staying with me to the end….the end for now.

So have an amazing Christmas, feel free to reach out, drop me a line, email me, LinkedIn me or tweet me. Whatever works. I am very much in the public domain, hard to miss 🙂 Links in the sidebar.

All the best.

Yours truly,
Volker Ballueder

Sunday Column (515)

Hello. I got about seven regular Sunday Columns left. That means Christmas is not far away. I managed two early Christmas presents for my boys, one is a trip to Manchester in order to see Man City play; the other one is a basketball hoop. Latter is also an early present for myself, but that aside. I can’t stop myself supporting the boy’s ambition to play sports, be healthy and exercise. How could I?

Today it has been 100 years since the end of World War One. It is hard to believe. My grandparents would be over 100 years old now and the world has moved on. Thinking about it, I introduced my youngest to some ‘oldies’ music from the 60ies and 70ies, another (Vietnam) war generation only 50 years ago. He wasn’t too keen. It reminds you to appreciate the peaceful times we live in. Despite mid term elections in the US and Brexit. A year from now, the world is a different place.

On that note, I read an article on the BBC about the decline in fertility rate. It is scary that we might not have an overpopulation problem but a problem of not too many kids to sustain our ever growing older people base. We are all going to live longer and no one there to follow us, meaning we need to work longer potentially. Our generation will see a lot of change.

For myself, post marathon, I just felt hungry this week. A bit out of place, not having anything to strive for. I was surprised how little I felt in terms of ‘weakness’ after the marathon. My knee felt fine from Tuesday already and all worries about that are gone. Some niggles around an insect bite I got during the run, and still some stiff legs. Nothing a massage, a stretch and a short run on the treadmill couldn’t cure.

The feeling after a marathon is interesting. You are in a hype bubble for a while, then it sinks in. It’s a super high and then a huge come down. It’s a phenomenon called the ‘marathon blues’, I read up a lot on it, and it isn’t nice to be honest. You spent three months or longer working towards something and then it’s done. It’s over. I can see the addiction to do more and more. It reminded me a bit of smoking cigarettes, you get this super high, then the low down, so you have another, and another. It is addictive for sure.

I find, at least for myself, that once it sunk in, it is almost as if it wasn’t there. But then it lingers around, that feeling of achievement. Not that I run around smiling, but it is that feeling of ‘yes, I have done it’. It definitely gives me energy, and wants me to run another one. So we shall see.

I was warned. The challenge is really to have the time and commit or sacrifice precious family time to running. That’s the hardest bit. The fitness and the mental strength builds up as you go along. I haven’t really decided yet, the next few weeks are quiet in terms of running, so plenty of time to think about it. But I might have just caught the running bug 🙂 (not that I didn’t run before anyway). Who knows. Maybe time to channel my time and focus to other projects, like basketball or building car models again. Who knows, nothing has been decided.

But those moments are decision moments. When running the marathon I was thinking of situations in my life where I went out of my comfort zone. The navy came to mind, now over 20 years ago. Night marches. Going beyond your limits. And compared to others, my training wasn’t that hard. And university, when being in the fraternity and fencing with sharp blades. Those moments of discomfort and going beyond the usual are moments that define you. They never go away. The wall as I call it, the next wall is there to come.

As I started writing this I am on an earlier train. If you don’t exercise in the morning and your body is used to a 5 am start, there is only that much you can do. My new breakfast routine takes 5 minutes (a nutrition shake), so I will be at work early. There is always something to do and sort. It was occupational therapy this week, work and food, and from next week things will change again. Time to go back to the gym, do more runs and decide on the next wall.

Don’t worry, there are still things on my bucket list. And maybe some of them have less impact on my knees. Maybe I need to learn a new skill. Maybe something to involve the kids. I believe I am through the blues. The weekend was great, getting on top of loads of work this week and being able to have a nice meal out with the wife. For our anniversary, to celebrate life.

I dreamed I had the chance to go up in a rocket to see the ISS (International Space Station) and paid a lot of money for it. And when it was about to take off, I wasn’t sure if I should go. What’s the worst that can happen to you out there? You never come back, you die. But you won’t. You will be fine, and things will always work out. If someone offers you a ride in a rocket, take it. Fear is a good thing.

I felt that last weekend, I went into that rocket, despite fear, and I came back. Yes, it was a hard come down, but now it is time to find the next rocket ride. Some training at basecamp and up to the next stars.

I almost don’t want to quit this post, but it’s time to let go. Literally. 7 more weeks.

Have a great week ahead,
Volker

Sunday Column (475)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck,
Volker

Sunday Column (459)

Monday again – ok Sunday when you start reading this. A mixed week is behind me which started with a Monday flight to Belgrade, Serbia. I have never been, heard a lot and went to see the operations office of the company, Sizmek, that acquired the company I work for, Rocket Fuel.

As a VP Client Success I joined Rocket Fuel back in January, anticipating that they either sell or be taken private. I have seen their history from being a competitor to being a partner to being a supplier and knew most of the people there. And I have been around in programmatic for 7 years, so a good fit I thought, but also a bit risky. Then the sale happened this summer and we are now part of Sizmek, backed by a P.E. Company (Private Equity) which originally took Sizmek private last year. So we have two ex public companies joining forces to build the biggest independent demand side stack in the programmatic space. This is a very promising proposition and I was very excited to be part of this. A great proposition.

With my commercial background and in depth operational knowledge, I was hired to align the back office, operations and analytics, with key accounts to drive further growth. Using my commercial acumen with the understanding of the space and experience of how to run campaigns, aligning back office with client growth. We never quite completed that as I was pulled in to run the German office where I successfully managed a turn around. So two senior jobs since the beginning of the year, lots of travel, lots of time away from the family. Now, the structure moving forward will look different. Less client success, more of an operations and sales divide. So things will change with the company and ultimately for me.

Belgrade. Air Serbia, and again a bit of nerve wrecking when my ticket had a spelling mistake, but everything was fine, and a very hard landing with squeaking brakes. I trust old planes 😉 Air Serbia got me there and back again. Belgrade is a city which on first sight resembled the Eastern part of Berlin 20 years ago, yet it turned out to be beautiful and full of the nicest people ever. Lots of meaty food, lovely people and very rich on culture with influences from Russia, Turkey, Hungary and Greece. It took me back to a trip I made to Istanbul a few years back. The merger of East and West, the tradition, cultural influences from all over the region and the amazing, well flavoured food. I believe I got a good feel for the people and the country. Essentiallly, due to travel times, we only spend two days in the office, however those two days were action packed and we learned a lot.

You remember when I spoke about experience in last week’s blog? That’s what it is all about. Understanding. Listening. Sharing the glass of wine and good food. Making friends and bringing people together. An amazing trip, not only for work and the extension of what we are doing in main markets, but to understand the challenges and opportunities in the Serbian market.

What did I noticed most in terms of the cultural differences – besides a noisy hotel that felt like a youth hostel on the first night (and the manager emailed me to apologise) – people still smoke a lot and you can still smoke in restaurants and bars. Yes, this is more of a Southern culture I suppose. Funny how after only 10 years (the smoking ban was introduced in the UK in 2007), we got so used to having smoke free clothes. I quit chain smoking in 1998, then smoked on and off until about 2004 before I finally gave up. Even that is crazy to think now. And given the lack of sleep, I introduced a second espresso again, and I really needed it 🙂 Not only because of the noise but we wanted to make the most with our hosts to get to know them in and out of the office.

So you would agree I suppose that this week was action packed. Enjoyable, tiring, yet encouraging and full of learning. A roller coaster ride on emotions and reflection on strengths and experience. What else to ask for?

Over the forthcoming weeks I can be more detailed about some personal developments, plans and some ideas; I prepared a few posts on life, work and priorities. Christmas is coming up and Tesco has already filled a whole aisle with things that are Christmassy. Oh yes, the joyful season. We had friends over for dinner, went bowling and enjoyed this autumn weekend.

I hope you did too. It is great to hear from more and more people that they enjoy reading this column. For the forthcoming weeks, keep reading, I will go deeper on a few things. And feel free to let me know what you want me to write about.

Have an amazing week ahead,
Volker

Sunday Column (458)

I love starting my blog on a Monday. Whilst it won’t make much of a difference to you, the final post being shared on Sunday, I love sitting on the plane or train on a Monday to reflect on the weekend, on life in general. Latter was the whole purpose when I started the Sunday Column now 458 weeks ago. Almost 10 years. It was about not only copying things and sharing things, but making my blog personal. I believe I have achieved that. It also gives me an outlet for my thoughts. My readership is in the thousands and people from all over the world are visiting my site. This is a nice thing to know that every week, people are waiting to read my weekly column. Thank you for bearing with me.

So reflecting on the weekend, I didn’t do much to be honest. We all have a cold and seem to be tired. My best friend from Germany was supposed to visit but was ill himself too. So we ended up with a very relaxing weekend. Some good food and excellent wine, cheese and the fire being on. We also got some game controllers for the AppleTV and the boys thinks we got an Xbox now. Not being an avid gamer myself, the boys and us enjoy the odd game we can play. Life is good and I sorted a few things out over the weekend that needed attention, as well as our holidays to Singapore next year. My cousin lives there and we are keen to visit. Even Economy few months ahead is expensive, but I guess that’s summer holidays and 4 people flying. When booking flights, besides an awful experience on the Singapore Airlines website, we opted for them over Norwegian Airlines. Latter are cheaper and flying from Gatwick, yet with Monarch just going out of business, I think relying on a big airline might just be the way forward. I would have loved to book British Airways, yet the price premium couldn’t be justified at all.

Adventures, experience. That is what life is all about. Gaining a competitive advantage through experience in work and life. Teaching your offspring for them to have a head start in life. This isn’t always easy. I love my manager for that at work, who despite me being prepared for meetings and being on top of things, always finds something else. I soak up his input and wonder if I will be such a good manager when I have another 10 years experience. I hope I will. I am confident I will, but this is for others to decide. My next trip for work takes me to Belgrade, Serbia. Somewhere I have never been, so I am looking forward to it. A new experience, an adventure. This is going to be fun. Not like the weekly commute I have done to Germany throughout the year. No adventure there, just experience 😉

But experience is key. In a workplace which is changing. There are no, or fewer, 30 year long careers. In new industries like online and digital marketing where I am part of, the average tenure is probably around 2 years. Probably even less. And as a friend of mine told me a couple of years ago, if you have done your job you are done, no matter if it is 1 year, 2 years or 5 years – or 6 months. This goes in line with a lot of industry posts I am reading about more and more people becoming consultants. Don’t get me wrong, just recently I have met people that have been with their employer for 11 years and this will exists, but the ones that drive change will be in and out of companies on a short tenure, or found companies themselves. Those progressive and success driven entrepreneurs are the new power managers of tomorrow’s world. I am working on an article around that as we speak.

That brings me to more change. As the leaves turn and I spend some time at home – ill children and then school events – I am looking out of the window and contemplate. Is that it? Is the life we have now, the village set up, is that me for the next 30 years. A yearly harvest festival, Light up Hassocks for Christmas, the local tennis club. Will we not want to change anymore? Is that what they call contentment or happiness?

Spending a day in the local community, showing face at school events and at tennis, I loved being around the boys, being part of their experience. They are my first priority and I do not spend enough time with them during the week. And I absolutely love the way we are living. I love our house, neighbours, driveway, and I am content in the place I am. But coming back to experience, adventure and life changing, when do you know when and how to change? Is it the external Brexit challenge? Is it the shooting in Las Vegas that once again makes a move to the US unappealing? What is it? How do you know? When do you know you found the place you should be staying forever?

Maybe I am impatient and expecting too much. Things come to your at the right time. Things happen for a reason. Change is good. I could quote another 100 sayings like that. But it is true. You MUST trust in the universe that things work out. You think any other ‘animal’ but humans ever think about the future and their mortgage? Ever wondered if the cat on the fence thinks about climate change? We are complicating our lives by thinking and ultimately worrying too much. No, the cat doesn’t. Kids don’t. And dare we teach kids to worry, they should enjoy life and do what they want. Follow their heart. Because the heart knows what is right or wrong.

More autumn thoughts next week, as we are getting further into my most favourite season.

Have an amazing week. Stay well,
Volker

Sunday Column (455)

Autumn has arrived. A cold, rainy and windy Sunday last week, building rafts, then a hot bath for the boys and a nice warm fire for all of us, cosy. The natural things, the things we have always known, like fire and blankets, provide shelter and comfort on days like that. We cleared away our garden furniture, cleaning the BBQ and prepare for winter. It isn’t quite there yet, but it won’t be long. Comfort. With hurricanes sweeping over the Caribbean and the US, we can consider ourselves lucky. Yet, the signs this might be global warming can no longer be ignored. Raising sea levels and different sea temperatures make nature more powerful. This is scary as this is only the beginning and seems far away. That might and will change. And I have been saying that since I joined a local environmental group in my early teens. And what have we, as human kind, done to prevent it?

9-11. It happened 16 years ago, just when I arrived in the UK. We seek comfort, we never forget. An event that changed the world and influences our generation as much as the wars have influenced our parent’s generation. Troubled times. We are lucky to not have seen more attacks of similar scale over the years, and I hope that we never will, given improved security at airports etc. We cannot be scared of flying or getting around following our daily business. We shouldn’t. We must trust that the majority of people on this planet are good people, looking after one another and share love and compassion. However, Korea is trying to prove us wrong. Another missile towards Japan. 9-11 is a reminder for us to not forget what has happened, why it has happened and how we learned from it.

Germany hosted the biggest digital advertising exhibition and conference dmexco this year. It has been 11 years since I started attending that event, and I since missed it once or twice. It has grown phenomenal and the owners are doing an amazing job to deliver an event relevant to the industry. Globally. I noticed that I have been in digital marketing for over 10 years, and 8 out of those I deal with programmatic. Even back then I said that the ecosystem will just adopt programmatic as standard. I wasn’t wrong so far. Yet the hype isn’t over yet, it takes 10 years for things to normalise I suppose, hence we seeing so much consolidation in the industry. When at the show I heard that my old boss said to someone at a meeting that ‘I was the best sales person he ever hired’. It is nice to have these things said about me, of course it would be nicer to have heard it from him. The industry is a village, lots of familiar faces, networking, and shaking hands. That’s what I love about it, some great friends you find, connections you make.

In between coming back from Germany and going out to New York, I try to spend as much time as possible with my boys. Travel is full on again, and more than planned, but the job needs to be done. It isn’t glamorous. On Tuesday I got a chance to take them to school and chat with them in the morning. A lovely autumn day it seemed. I missed them coming home delayed and exhausted on Thursday but we made up for it on Friday and Saturday. They do not like me being away and I do not like the travelling either. But it is part of the parcel and it will get better. Important in my opinion is that we talk about it, and that I carve out the time with the family when I can. This is to make sure you do not neglect the most important part of your life. They need to feel valued and given attention, being the most important things I have. Given I love my job, always enjoyed working, family is still there forever, and building a relationship with your kids starts now. As my boss once said, success doesn’t mean being successful in your job only, there is family and other things to consider too. That goes in line with a book I finished reading this week which examines how we – you – measure your life.

In other news, after my wife gave me an amazing bracelet for my birthday, a Buddhist one that makes me feel more grounded and reminds me to be mindful, I got myself another one. It has seven different coloured beads, representing chakras and remind you of virtues too. I enjoy wearing them, alongside my colourful and changing watch straps, in order to remind myself daily of how grateful I am. When on flights and trying to relax my brain and taking a moment to just not think, I touch those beads, reflect on what’s happening in life and cherish the love and focus on the important things in my life. This is important to me, and I am pleased to have those reminders with me.

Before I finish off a few thoughts on the Apple event this week. The iPhone X is amazing. The technology is the future of what is there to come. In my opinion Apple has pulled off an amazing phone packed with mind blowing technology. I also believe that technology will become available to mainstream iPhones in the years to come, and for now is more a gimmick. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have one, but I cannot justify the money for it. So I might just hold on to see how the technology will find its way in the more affordable versions over time. Hence I need to check how to upgrade to the iPhone 8 for now.

It has been a busy week. Exciting with the official showcasing of our new company joint proposition at dmexco. Fully booked, exhausting flights. Networking, fun filled conversations, discussions, open exchanges about the things there are and things to come. I am happy, content about the life I am living and the situation I am. Zen. It is busy but change is good. I am excited about change, whichever way it might turn out. When you read this on Sunday night I will be on the plane to New York for a quick trip. Life isn’t bad as long as we are aware what is important to us, how we measure whether we prioritise correctly and as long as we are in zen with ourselves.

Thanks for reading and tuning in. Have a fantastic week,
Volker

Sunday Column (407)

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Monday started off nicely and when drafting my blog I realised I ended up writing a whole post on Brexit. See Brexit.
So I had to stop myself writing another post just about train strikes on Tuesday. The RMT union, rightly or not, strikes. Again. Overrunning engineering works added to the misery. I finally was on my way on the first train (!) running from Brighton to London. Just before 830 am. Two hours later than anticipated. I am up early anyway. I can change my schedule but my employer expects me in the office for 9 am. And they should do. The ongoing situation with Southern Rail is inexcusable. It is utterly disgusting in this day and age. But I wouldn’t add anything to the conversation by getting annoyed.

So I breathe in and out. I decide how I feel. Southern cannot make me feel a certain way. I cannot change the situation. I can only accept it. Doesn’t mean I like it. Far from it. Totally out of my control. The same is true for my headphones. After spending a small fortune on my Bose noise cancellation wireless headphones I exchanged them on Monday. Interrupted and intermittent connectivity. I have been testing the new ones all week. It seems better and I am in close contact with Bose support. We will tackle that. The sound of the Bose headphones are just too good.

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The commuter nightmare. A lot of people feel the strain and pain. It makes people sick. And I wonder why or do I get sick? On Tuesday I couldn’t leave the house before 8 to catch any train. On Wednesday I was in London before 8. Madness. No reliability or consistency. The fear and worries of the train company’s delays reflecting bad on you and your ability to be at work. Companies luckily understand but they shouldn’t have to. And neither should we as commuters. A never ending story but shouldn’t we just get a reliable service most of the time? The other challenge is that most people don’t know how to use the commuter time. I have habits. In the morning it is very much about me-time. I read. Without (many) exceptions I try to go through a book every 10 days. On the bus it is a mix of emails, podcasts, preparation for the day. Depending on the day I might just chill out to some music. On the way back I work on the bus. Time sheets, feed reader catch up. On the train home I usually work. If there is nothing to work on, which is rare, I read or watch some catch up TV, an episode of a TV series or chill out. Moving forward I also will make sure to finalise my next productivity book. Once I finished reading Bruce Springsteen’s biography. Yet without that routine and use of the time to accomplish something, this commute would be hell. Now it is one of my most productive times of the day. The reduced strike service causes less delays and less time to work. I get home quicker. Bit odd, and counter productive 😉

Due to the strike I also changed my exercise routine. A nice run on Wednesday night, given I had time, resulted in a 43.16 for the 10K on my treadmill. Result. My body went in overdrive and resulted in some ‘stress pimpels’. Never mind. I enjoy challenging myself and pushing boundaries. I feel like I am moving in the right direction and get a few things done at the moment, clearing out the old, bringing in the new input. I am looking forward to a break, to recap on a few things, and make sure I am not missing anything in life. Half term is not too far away! On the other hand there are things that seem a bit off at the moment. Without wanting to go into great detail, just when you think things are all happily moving along, more change is in the air. I hope for positive change of course but that isn’t always guaranteed. Sanity is what you must aim for.

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Coming back to Springsteen’s biography I realise a few bits about life. No great revelations but essentially, as you grow up, you notice more and more that your life isn’t at all different to other people’s life. Bruce said in one of his chapters that ‘I loved as best as I could, but I hurt some people I really cared about along the way. I didn’t have a clue as to how to do anything else.‘. I see myself having done that in the past, and had to learn a lot about loving people. Something that just didn’t come natural to me. I am great in building rapport with people, mastering situations, dealing with people and having a higher EQ than some. Yet under the skin, the love and appreciation for people beyond the daily interaction was something I had a hard time learning. My wife would be a in a better position to tell you, but also my kids. It took me a long time to come to terms of what fatherhood means to me, and how to love kids in the right way. To appreciate them seeing the world from a different place and to understand how to change my perception to their level. It is a wonderful world, once you are in it, but getting there didn’t come natural for me.

Where is that coming from? I often had doubts if I could ever learn it. If I say that Bruce gives me the confidence that it is normal, I don’t have many other people I could ask. But that’s what you learn in life, that actually the challenges you have, the things that you worry about, are the same things everyone else is worrying about. With personal nuances of course. Talking about his puberty, Bruce writes ‘I was a punk, grumbling my way through….My dad’s journey on this ship was probably one fo the most meaningful of his life and I couldn’t respect it.‘ – and I can remember those days when I was just a grumpy old teenager, and so can many, that didn’t respect their parents. And looking back we will feel bad. When Bruce looks back and says he would like to turn back time to change it or get a second chance to make it better, we often don’t get this. We often only have this one chance in life, yet we mess it up. And so what, you might be thinking. You are probably right. I have regrets in my life but I am not worried, don’t want to go back to rectify them. I found my closure in life a few years ago. I went through the exercise of writing letters to people asking them for forgiveness and closure. The ones that wanted, replied. And it is good, it is healing for me, and hopefully it was for them too. We move on in life and need to focus on what lies ahead of us, not looking back. We cannot change the past or dwell on it. We would go crazy. Would I love to go back in time to rectify things? No, I honestly would not. Maybe I don’t have enough baggage and my things are small in comparison to others, yet when in puberty, I am certain my kids will go through the same thing and I will experience life from the other side. What goes around comes around I suppose. Cycle of life.

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I am not quite sure where I am leading with that. I look around the full ram packed train which I am on at 7 am in the morning due to the strike in order to get a seat and look at the commuter crowds. If we took a snap shot of those people and ask them the above questions, they would all agree. Life is what it is. No surrender. No regrets. Moving on and up. We can change the now and are obliged to make the now the best one yet. We must ensure that we always give our best, to keep winning and moving in the right direction. I am certain of that.

We sometimes remember snapshots that might be, over time, look bigger than they are. Like the famous objects in the rear view mirror. Yet often the opposite is the case. We lay to rest what we have to lay to rest. It’s done.

I am done. I am done for this week. An amazing week. I feel in more control of things and had a few things I took care of. Nice. I feel like I am winning. In my game. Getting shit done, adding value. But that’s all I want. All I can ever ask for, isn’t it?

Have a fantastic week,
Volker