Posts Tagged commute

Sunday Column (492)

Another week, another month. It’s June already. I could hardly stay awake on Tuesday. I feel the weather, it being muggy and hot, and warm, and rainy….how would I cope in places like India or Singapore? I love dry heat in Italy for instance, once you get used to it that is. But this mixed weather, changing, just doesn’t work for me. And, it shows how British I am, opening my blog with the discussion around the weather. Thunderstorm. Downpours. Good for the garden – revealing my true age. This week was all about the weather it seemed.

On the note of gardens. My wife, with a little bit of help from the kids and myself, build a wonderful stone or Zen garden. It is something we wanted to do for a long time and I absolutely love it. The plan is for more things to be embedded there, a space to think, write, meditate. As there is no grass growing under our neighbours tree, it is the perfect space.

Due to half term, I took a day ‘off’ on Thursday so my wife could work. Having had a few calls scheduled, I spend most of the day playing football. I think the boys had a great time, and I even managed to cook pasta for dinner. Most people reading this would laugh, but seriously I am not that great with cooking and all. I didn’t burn the sausages which is a benefit but some of the pancakes were on the darker side, waking the boys to the chime of the smoke alarms 😉 Daddy’s in charge.

It’s those days that make my life. Being able to be with the boys in the now, playing football, discussing serious things like cancer; we played Monopoly and I lost when hitting hotels from my youngest twice in one go. What’s the chances, even with him only having one set of streets? No surprise he was delighted, and some educational pieces around counting, subtracting and how to invest money were on the table too. I think that’s what I enjoy most, satisfying their curiousity about life, about things they want to know.

Maybe I add a few words about the commute this week. I am lucky, see previous posts, but a lot of Thamelink services got cancelled this week. Up to 300 trains a day and the policitians are getting involved. It is a poor state of affairs to be honest, all that talk about things getting better and engineering works, better services and more trains. Yet, as it turns out, if you are reliant to go on Thameslink from Hassocks, you have one cancelled train after another. Appaling – that’s what it is. I remember when we had the strikes, almost 2 years ago now, and things were bad then. When you turn up at work due to no fault of your own. I think that’s pretty bad. Maybe the petition I signed will get politics involved and then, hopefully, get us a new contractor on the line. If they will be better, we shall wait and see.

I think that’s all for this week. I am finalising this in my usual spot, the side of the Karate dojo where my youngest is training whilst I take a few minutes to reflect on my week. Still feeling the overindulgence on the local Indian last night, ending half term on a high.

Have a good one,
Volker

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Sunday Column (479)

6.52 – Monday – my train is leaving my local station to get to Victoria for an 8.30 meetings. It is minus degrees, and bitterly cold. As I am waiting for the train I reflect a bit and realise that I should have taken a woolen hat and some gloves. But no, I never really think about this. As most of my readers know I am an early bird. I lost over 10kg a few years ago and ever since had to bake in exercise into my daily routine. The only way it works for me, given I have a 90 minute door-to-door commute, is at 5 am routine in the morning. So despite people asking me if I am mad, I am not, I am just scheduling things so they work. 5 am wake up, about 45-60 minute exercise, 15 minutes meditation, getting ready, breakfast and out of the door by 7ish. Simple, isn’t it?

Having done some research recently into my sleep pattern, I realise that I have been waking up earlier than 5 am. What happens is, as my body must have got used to getting up between 4.45 and 5.15 every morning for the last 6 years, that the sleep cycles, the 90 minutes cycles, kind of start messing up my sleep. So what I noticed recently, going to bed around 9:30 pm, that I wake up at 3.30/3.45 fully awake. This suggests a theory I have been following by someone who only sleeps about 6 hours (4*90 minutes cycle) and gets up at 3.30 am, yet goes to bed at 9 pm. The theory is that if you get 4 good sleep cycles, that is all you need, rather than 4.5 cycles which leaves you actually more tired. Or you go for 5 of course, e.g. 7.5 hours sleep, about 8 hours in bed. You could argue if I go to bed at 9 pm, I should get 7.5 hours, getting up at 5, but it seems not work like that for me. So I shall continue to experiment, and maybe go to bed around 11 pm. The challenge is that I do not want to compromise on sleep and definitely don’t want to run around like a zombie. Just planning 8 hours for sleep seems a big ask on my time I find, that’s ⅓ of the day. But if I get 4 full cycles, e.g. 6 hours, and wake at 5 am, then 11 pm seems to be the right time to go to bed.

What do you think? Are you an early bird? What works for you? Please reach out to me and let me know. If you read that and have done some studies, please let me know, I am curious on how to master this.

Now the #uksnow – panic set in from Monday yet most trains were running as normal on Tuesday. I was impressed. And pleased. Good to see that the system works and that enough preparation didn’t kill the infrastructure. Well done Southern and Thameslink. I wore my old Navy boots to town, yet changed into more formal shoes once I got there 😉 It is a shame that the UK seems to normally collapse under an inch of snow, the more I was delighted to see it didn’t. And the boys loved it, they haven’t seen proper snow for a while. Personally, I love the cold weather. A few weeks of bitterly cold weather, snow and chaos sometimes doesn’t hurt. But then again…..it is easier without, isn’t it?

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I decided to stay at home. Weather was ok-ish on most days, but deteriorated on Friday. So I postponed a meeting I had to go in for on Friday but thought it’s better than getting stuck on a train half way home. A Skype call worked just as well, and after all, the trains were running fine. I actually enjoyed the cold snap and having the fire on most days, getting cosy and drinking wine, and maybe taking it a bit easier, was actually rather nice. Cheese boards. Oh yes, I love a good night in. I have a busy week ahead next week. Fingers crossed I will be getting closer to making progress towards finding a job. I keep saying that every week, but I feel like things must come to an end before Easter. Fingers crossed, I keep you posted as always.

So not a hugely eventful week but with the snow and all, that’s what happened. For a few this was the perfect excuse to not do any work on Friday at all. It is wonderful for the kids and only ever happens every 5-10 years. So not a big deal but disruptive. It slows down a lot and given it was MWC this week in Barcelona, half the industry was out of the country anyway. Easter is getting closer with 3 weeks to go, so let’s see how things plan out. I definitely enjoy being out there doing some contract work, being busy and having a purpose. It helps not going stir crazy.

Additionally I booked a few new podcast guests in, and almost filled the schedule until the end of the year. I finally got some women committed and also started having some guests that are not in the adtech industry. We are moving in the right direction and I enjoy listening to my guests, discussing the Stories of Success.

Apologies for a rather diary like column. My focus at the moment is on the job hunting, the contract job and juggling a few things on the family side. Life never stops.

Have an amazing week ahead,
Volker

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Sunday Column (452)

If feels like autumn, no? I went back to work. It surely doesn’t feel like summer anymore. The sun seems gone, the warmth, yet the golden summer or Indian Summer hasn’t arrived yet either. A great week to get back to work. Five days of full on fun and then 3 days off for the last bank holiday weekend of the year. Yeah! And not long now and the kids go back to school. They missed me this week as I went back to work rather than continued to be at home. Bless. Yes, one can get used to just sitting around doing nothing I suppose 😉

The commute. Did I miss it? A bit. Seriously, I have got hardly any reading done. Now I got my 1-2 hours back where I sit on the train, read, write or listen to podcasts. I am back. For those actitives, I don’t mind the commute. The only challenge is either the length of the journey when you are in a rush to get home or of course delays or cancellations. But my major aim this week was to continue changing my routine. Small things in the morning, staying within the flow, cut out calories, and keeping a relaxed and sane mind. Is it working. I am not sure 😉 But I tried.

I love those first days coming back to work. Things seem in harmony, your body and mind are relaxed and you go with the flow. You breathe differently, you get wound up less, and you seem to be full of energy and anticipation of what is coming next. This feeling usually lasts about 4 weeks max before it returns to normal. Actually by Friday, I was almost back to normal. Crazy. Maybe a 1 week holiday every week, will that keep us sane? Kidding aside, if you are as self conscious as I am, you will notice the effect of full relaxation and, how as a matter of time, it wears off and you fall into old habits. A few small habits but habits never the less. To change those all will be difficult, just conquer one at a time. As my mentor Darren Hardy would say, improve 1% at a time at everything you can. All small changes are adding up.

Talking about habits, I changed a few and made a few tweaks to my morning routine. Given I don’t run for 10K any longer on most mornings, I tuned down to 5 and 7.5K and some weight training, it gives me more time to sort other things and catch up on emails etc. prior to work. Less rush. Also, I am keen on catching up with more friends after the holidays. It seems like I am always rushing, so given that approach, my Tuesday night beers turned into a few more. Lack of sleep, short nights and I was in bed at 9 pm the next day, feeling like newborn on Thursday. I love random weeks, but reduced calorie intake and bad sleep do drag you down 🙁 Full on, one week in. And yes, I am loving it, and truly enjoyed the catch up too.

In life, I am still trying to figure out what the best approach is. In my diaries, and I found an old letter from about 20 years ago, I wrote that in life you can either be the CEO of Mercedes or the Shepard in Australia. The text book career or the wild life. Now, given I am neither, and given I have family, the latter is probably out of question. However, I do question if the CEO of a big company is actually the goal. Does it matter whether I work for a big corporate with a big name or for start ups and small challenger brands? Exactly the same discussion came up with a friend who I met randomly on the street this week in London, after we tried catching up in Hamburg for the past 4 months. And if it matters, to whom does it matter? Will it be reflected in money and status? And if so, what is the tradeoff? Politics vs. Fun? Reputation and CV vs. Being in the Flow, hoping for the big exit?

For now I don’t have to worry about this question. Watching the TV Series (season 4!) of Silicon Valley brings back the dream, and reading this 20 year old note, almost makes you melancholic. What was it like to grow Mexad from zero to multi million? Often, most thoughts we have in life, have already crossed your mind at some point. You remember my post about me inventing both Facebook and Twitter. But wrong time, wrong place. Will I be smarter next time, or am I just not the Zuck of the future. Did you watch The Founder, the story about McDonalds? As a 54 year old, a sales man, the chap spotted the opportunity to go for it and build a franchise. He succeeded. And why wouldn’t have he? I love those stories, and miss the newest inventions of Steve Jobs – not saying Apple will not innovate, but I guess it will never be the same. The new iPhone is coming soon, then copying Amazon Alexa, Netflix. Are they catching up or are they ahead these days? I don’t really know. Anyway, maybe that is a discussion for another time.

To relax from my first week back, I enjoyed the long weekend, or will still tomorrow.
Have a great, if short, week ahead.
Best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (441)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope you had a great weekend,
Volker

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Sunday Column (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

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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:

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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

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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

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Sunday Column (390)

A busy week lies behind me. Draining. Even my 5 year old said he was ready for a week vacation. Bless.

Firstly I had to overcome the thought of not climbing my wall, overcoming my fear and challenging my body in 6 weeks time. I am a tad disappointed. It feels like I revert back to my swimming and kettle bell and running exercises as I have done, to keep fit, without a goal. I was asking myself if I should just do a marathon instead. But I still don’t fancy it. So the search continues for another wall. I keep you posted. Any ideas are welcome.

When running a 10K on Tuesday I felt drained, tired. I don’t sleep well lately. The swimming on Monday seems more exhausting than anticipated. 1.5K is my swimming distance and whilst it doesn’t seem that far, it does take a bit out of you. As a matter of fact you burn almost the same amount of calories with a breast stroke 40 minutes swim as you do with a 40 minute run. Who would have guessed.

Next week is Cannes. Less running, busy days, Rose fuelled. Maybe I take it easy for a week re exercise, reset the system and get on with it from the week after again. It almost feels as if I need some time off. Not long until the summer holidays.

Cannes for adtech

Cannes for adtech

I really feel that for the past 2 years I haven’t had a proper break. A detox of work, being responsive to emails. Just this week, reading another productivity article, I have been supported by my theory that those productivity principles don’t cut the cheese. Yes those gurus are right and my summary of the tools are right too. However the key to unlimited productivity lies in a personalised system. As every job, every relationship, every circumstances are different, we must apply a person based productivity principle. That’s the theory I am working on in my next book, to allow for a tailor made system. Being able to get your personalised productivity plan.

Having said that, Forbes published a video about that time bound work, 9-5, doesn’t work any more. And this is one of the overarching principles that will always apply. We are not machinery and each of us has peaks and troughs at different times of day and months. We must work with and in harmony with our own energy system to reach peak performance. Taking breaks every 90 minutes is essential.

What I have noticed is that I haven’t written much about my commute. Sitting in first class accommodation whilst writing this, you would assume it is fine. No, it isn’t. The conductors went on strike. But nothing changed. With the new trains they are fearing for their jobs. However, I understand that Southern and other train companies offered to retrain them and keep them as employers. This is supported by the train drivers, who don’t want to steer 12 carriages without a conductor, fearing to leave the cabin if anything happens on the train. Fair points.

Cut a long story short a lot of conductors are now long term sick instead of going on strike. Train drivers seem to join in a bit and we have lots of cancellation of trains. Today’s train is one in three they didn’t cancel, yet they made it 5 instead of 10 coaches. It is standing only, ram packed and by time we get to Gatwick it will be that full, that I can only assume what the visitors to Great Britain think of our rail system. It is disgusting really and has been ongoing for a while. The service, as you might remember from my last moans, has never been that great but now it is even worse. Lucky for me the air conditioning is working this morning. I saw a pregnant woman and hope she found a seat (she went to a different carriage) and elderly which I likewise hope got a seat. This is getting dangerous. Do I have sympathy with the conductors? I do and I don’t. They should go to work, take offers to be retrained or find a different job. Easier said than done but sometimes work is like that. They wouldn’t have to endure the journey. And another strike is looming next week.

I am wondering where that leaves us as a country. The looming Brexit, the conductor strikes, the shooting of an MP this week. Sometimes I fear this country that I adopted as my home is turning for the worse. I get scared sometimes. Just as we seem to settle, raise the family, and just want to get on with life, this is happening. Let’s hope we get through that turmoil quickly and back to the old British pride in the next couple of months. Very decisive weeks ahead.

At the end of the day it is what it is. You cannot change life. It is almost predestined. Your life overall. Family. Kids. Job. Success. Or not. The way you want to live your life. Whilst it all depends on you, at the end of the day you live the life you were told to live. That isn’t bad and you just carry on, be one of the many. However, some people are very successful in breaking those patterns. They break free and accelerate beyond what would be called the “norm”. They might take more risks than an average person, or they might just not go with the conformity.

I have seen a few changes with people recently which makes me think about the state of affairs. About motivation, external influence, and understanding of business. It might be a phenomenon of our industry yet there are too many people not investing in talent and or experienced managers. They think that they know it all. That they are untouchable. Yet the really successful people have strong, experienced advisors on their side, the ones that help scaling the business and introduce processes important to smooth growth. Hiring of top talent. Maybe I should do more consulting work, yet I enjoy what I am doing at the moment. My company is at the edge of the industry, pushing boundaries. I like that.

Predestined. That’s my word this week. I am not actively watching the Euro Cup yet I am looking at the results and fill in the wall chart for the boys. Who is going to win? When will we all dance like Swedish and Irish fans in harmony rather than rioting? Will there ever be peace?

My bags are packed. For now to go to Cannes. To go and have a few days in harmony. In peace with the industry and have some fun in the sun. Yet a strong business focus too. I hate to leave the kids for the few days, but I am looking forward to a weekend with them next week. The wife is away and I am in charge. We are going to have fun.

I report to you then.

Best wishes,

Volker

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Sunday Column (322)

Exciting times. At time of publishing I will be networking with the international digital industry. In no other place than Rome. I haven’t been to Rome for a long time, yet probably don’t get a chance to see much either. Let’s see. Of course I report back next week.

Despite my hatred about the commute, the train had been on time once this week, I also enjoy the community of commuters. The chap that confirms the train is stopping at our station despite the wrong on-train announcements. The guys in the morning for the daily chit chat. Yet, the moment we get on the train it is “each to their own”. We get on with our things. Sleep. Reading. Writing blogs. Internet banking. Emails. Whatever is on the list that day.

A lot of ladies put their make up on and I am still debating whether I mind it or not. I suppose I am not too bothered, yet I wonder what people would say if I shaved on the train. Surely that wouldn’t be acceptable.

I get a lot of reading done on the train, yet this week was all about recovering. I had my first Kettlebell class which was more exhausting than I thought. Now I am trying to fit in a Kettlebell routine into my exercise plan, as I now have the garage free of stuff. My den. Yet my new shed is still not finished, so the overall project would have taken two weeks longer than anticipated. A bit annoying. Great craftsmanship yet no delivery on time.

As you know I have very high standards when it comes to customer service. And again, I was surprised twice this week. The first time that my insurance didn’t kick a fuss or made it extra difficult to repair my phone. So I got an exchange and will pay my excess, and the cheque arrived already too. Wow!

However, Apple of course wasn’t a problem. Their online chat was great helping me when I ran into problems restoring the phone. It is all set now, I hope anyway. Yet Vodafone once again managed to piss me off!

I contacted them on the 24th of April for a “copy of my contract”. They said they send a pdf which they didn’t. I called again on Saturday and they explained it takes 24 hours. Monday they told me I should email them, however it was on my file but delayed due to the weekend. The email team got back to me asking for security details and never got back to me after that. My tweets to VodafoneUK_Help rang through, then again another email and 10 days later I had my proof. WTF?? Seriously, that is rubbish.

Then two days later a call centre agent tries to upsell me on Vodafone. Sorry, but sort your sh* out and call me (I am sure you have my number) and apologise first, then offer me a deal and make sure I am not leaving you guys when my contract is up. And it is up very soon! I then, upon request, emailed them again with that story. Give me some free stuff and make me happy I said. Let’s see what they answer.

Why I am still getting annoyed at them? Because I am helpless and in no position to actually change their behaviour, yet I am dependent on what they tell me and how they treat me. And they can treat me however they like, can’t they? Maybe I should contact Watchdog or some kind of website or TV programme and really go after bad customer service. Whilst not trying to overlay my high standards on every thing, as otherwise I would get too frustrated, I do expect more respect from a brand like Vodafone. Guess not.

Another bad example of customer service

Another bad example of their customer “service”

Also this week I booked some time off. Plan is to go camping. Putting all those little things in the Amazon basket that we might not need, camping gadgets, is exciting. Will I enjoy it? Yes, I think so. It will get me out of my comfort zone and as long as the boys love it, I am sure I will. I just hope the dog is ‘out of’ season by then.

A catch up with a good friend and a great networking night left me a wee bit ropey on Thursday. A good night though. Some proper high level networking which is great. Being a bit tipsy definitely helps to chat, connect, and ‘speed date’.

Hey, and that was another week. As normal, the usual working hours cramped into less working days.

Last but not least Cameron won the election. Not a bad result, given all other leaders resigned. He seems to be our best choice currently, so let’s carry on for another 5 years and see.

Have a great week.
Volker

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Sunday Column (306)

Another week. At time of writing this post, second time around due to the WordPress app not saving the draft, I am sitting on a cold carriage on the 7.29 from Brighton.

This train became famous this week, as it was in the press. I have been complaining about it a lot before, that we always arrive 10 minutes late, but rumours now have it this train is never on time. Even the Prime Minister got involved and journalists flocked on the train to interview people. Allegedly it is on time less than 30% of all journeys. A bit appalling.

It leads me to my most favourite subject, which I was trying to avoid. The train system is in shambles. Worst about it, at least to my mind, is the reliance on the train. Whilst I believe the majority of the population commutes by car, the ones that commute by train, and particular for an hour or more like myself, need to rely on it. With close to a month’s salary this service is not worth what we pay for. The constant rail fare increase without the felt modernisation isn’t fair or value for money, whilst we are stuck without alternatives. And I suppose that is where my grief comes from: I have no choice but to use a highly priced service that doesn’t offer value for money.

Maybe a lifestyle change is in order? A local job, working from home or for a sole online business? Not being able to rely on trains, on a service, which you are dependent on, e.g. you don’t have an alternative for, is crippling. We are in 2015 not 1896.

Never mind. It sometimes makes for good yet boring and repetitive conversation. Sometimes, you get more work done before you arrive in the office. But no 9 am meetings. I am restricted by my train company. The argument of course is to get an earlier train which there are two: one leaves 9 minutes earlier and arrives 10 minutes earlier but is totally full, no seat and standing only for an hour. The one I take has plenty of table seats, from carriage 2 downwards. So quite a luxurious travel in comparison to some services (see, it isn’t all bad). The other direct, earlier alternative train is 50 minutes earlier, yet somewhat it gets me into the office too early, I miss out on breakfast with the children and would have to restructure my whole day. Of course, a train in between would be great, but I don’t say that because it is necessary but because the late running of our service makes it a necessity almost. In other words, bring the “7.29” in on time and we are all happy or make it 10 minutes early to arrive late on the current scheduled time?!

I guess this week was about trains. Much better than the draft I had before. Next week my air travel starts again. Also, whilst physical transport, my physio seems to pay off with less problems and pains during my 10K runs which I do twice a week. It all moves in the right direction.

steve jobs

I have been up early to do the physio and do it regularly, together with my weight training. I am back to the weight I had 6 months ago! It comes to show that routine and habit is what drives a base line efficiency. I will cover more about that over at tidWOWS in due course. A 5 am start followed by some gentle physio and a bench press session whilst catching up on productivity podcasts set me up nicely for the day. The only drawback is that the kids usually wake up the moment I finish showering, so I am missing almost an hour of early morning writing and meditating. Having said that, to spend the first hour of your day with the two most important people in the world is something I am truly grateful for! I can always work on the train… I very much enjoy the time in the morning. As it happens they sleep longer on the days I take the dog out for an hour in the morning, so it makes me question if they might know?

So back to 2015 and the now. I am pushing forward. Productivity, meeting A-Players and thinking about the future, defining the strategy, my strategy. I am refining my strategy. Improving. Pushing further forward. Becoming and being an A-player.

Life is good. I enjoy what I am doing, the space I operate in. This was a good week!

Have a fantastic 7 days ahead of you, make sure you make the most of every single one.
Volker

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