I want to be honest on my blog here, I am quite chuffed to have achieved that. Yes, I wrote a book before, but juggling a full time job, family and writing a book on the back of a podcast….but it can be done. It is down to time management, discipline and routines. Latter you heard over the years, and it is mentioned in both of my books.
After interviewing 40 people in 18 months of my podcast Stories of Success, I am delighted to summarise what I have learned in terms of What makes you successful.
Thanks again to all my podcast guests for sharing their stories. I name them all in the book!
In the next few days and weeks, I want to share those principles in short videos. You can find them on my LinkedIn feed, Facebook or Instagram.
The first few chapters are about understanding and identifying your WHY, the why of your business and what it means to you. Understanding yourself and what drives you on. It is such a fundamental question to ask.
We then solve the question if money means success. A question I was surprised most guests answered with no! Or did they? Actually they did, and it gave me confidence that success isn’t related to money, yet you might not be able to reverse this, e.g. money often comes with success. But is it a main driver?
And we learn how success isn’t a “thing” but a journey you are on. It doesn’t stop. It is continuous. Isn’t that interesting? You don’t achieve success, but you are on a journey of success.
Discover those principles above and more, and feel free to either get a copy of the book or join me when I continue to interview successful people on my podcast in season 3.
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.
Does Facebook Make Us Unhappy And Unhealthy? – The Wall Street Journal publisher a summary of a research paper. I am not surprised about users feeling isolated or that likes/not likes lead to some kind of competition. But competition about whether you are liked? Who is the judge?
Another industry related post on IBM Watson AI (Artificial Intelligence) and how it can be used in daily life. Amazing things await us in the (immediate) future.
Standards – whether your own or for the company – can determine the way you run your life or your business. The main challenge is that one should not project one’s own standards to everything. It will drive you potty 😉
Friday. Around 2 pm and I am sitting on a train home. I have a half day and enjoying myself. Kind of. Light Up Hassocks awaits me. The yearly highlight of switching on the Christmas lights. I am doing the school pick up, my parents are coming. By time of posting this will all be past. It is nice to take a half day, get some initial work done, then chilling in the afternoon. Particularly at such a gorgeous day like today. It is almost too bright to work. And it is almost December too. And it got bitterly cold later on. Light up Hassocks was nice, the weekend with my parents was nice, so all good. The routine starts again tomorrow.
I summed up my life on Facebook on Friday, I thought I share it here. It sometimes feels that simple:
Ok. Left work early to attend light up Hassocks. Parade and lights and fair ground rides. Kids and parents and wife had a fab time. Feeling ripped off paying two months of pocket money on light sabres but hey, it’s for the greater good and the kids. When parents went to bed I finished off work and now reflecting on the day. Remembering the youngest saying ‘Daddy,I haven’t seen you all week and I don’t remember what you looked like’ (which isn’t true). But sometimes feels like it. And what if (not unlikely) Southern rails had had another 20 min delay on top of what they did. I would have had to have a contingency plan for pick up. I did. I didn’t need it. But I cannot trust Southern.
Doesn’t that sum up my life? Dominated by Southern (yet hey are not accountable or responsible), great friends and a full on life.
Enough for tonight. Weekend. Looking after the loved ones. Time to chill. Moaning over.
Maybe to add, a friend didn’t get home in time because his train was 40 minutes delayed. Life could be so much better without Southern, or with any reliable train service. I know I am going on about train travel but it is just so unreliable.
Yet the week was kicking off with a media owner event. It was great, yet one thing I noticed (and no, it isn’t criticism): breakfast was from Pret. And so is most day’s breakfast if it is from a media owner or when I go into the office early, or when I have a quick snack for lunch or in between. Where is that obsession of us Brits (and want to be Brits) with Pret coming from? A quid for a decent brew of filter coffee, Apple pay accepted from day one, a sandwich for everybody’s taste, cookies that taste nice, breakfast that seems to cater for everyone and it is convenient too. Not one street corner without a Pret it seems. There is even a vegetarian one. The first one opened in 1986 and they look like a great corporate, with a CEO blog and apprenticeship schemes, organic food without additives, and used to be owned partly by MacDonalds. It’s sister company is Itsu, the up market sushi shop, which can be found most often in close proximity to a Pret. Maybe they need an agency, what a fantastic brand to work on and take to the next level. The love for standard good food seems to align us – the nation – in Pret 🙂 And I love the salmon and egg baguette for breakfast, unless I have a hungover and prefer their sausage muffins….yes, I am obsessed too 🙂
Another phenomenon that kicked off this week seemed to be around programmatic. A few people keenly voiced their opinion on programmatic being overrated. I have said that before. Where are we with programmatic advertising? I did present that to a client too. Back in the days we were keen on having real time bidding (RTB) to make impression by impression decision making in real time via a bidder. Nowadays, we execute that and a lot more all from one single line item, highly targeted and across multiple channels. Whether that is real time or not, it is programmatic, it is traded in a programmable fashion. So what does that mean? The whole industry gets automated, and we call it programmatic – for some companies a great chance to be ‘specialists’ and to hide margins, for others it is just another acronym that confuses their clients. As a friend on Linkedin wrote this week: the bottom line is whether we answer the question what value we add to the client. And of course, this is a ‘yes we do’ or ‘no we don’t’. Yet the main differentiator is not whether we execute programmatic, but whether we know how to navigate the ecosystem, understand limitations of ‘make or buy’ and use data in a clever way to our clients’ advantage. That paired with excellent planning makes a good agency (and a few other ingredients). But this wasn’t supposed to be a sales pitch, yet my astonishment of how advertisers just cannot understand my part of the industry. So feel free to look up my Linkedin article on AI – take it with a pinch of salt – but aren’t we falling into a big trap of complicating things? And that is why some programmatic consultants still get paid a high day rate without being questioned. As you can clearly see, I am settling in well in agency land. It is time to get closer to clients and make them understand what adtech is all about!
Another theme, a red line throughout my conversations with some mentors and friends this week, suggests that there is more out there to which people and companies aspire to or should at least. As I reviewed my productivity book this week, where I am addressing those situations, I am wondering how to best help. How to best move things along vs. moving things up, vs. making the first move to take massive actions. Where I am leading with that isn’t quite obvious. I guess it is about doing your daily job and thinking beyond and taking over responsibility and accountability (spot a theme, Southern?). To perform beyond your duty and to use what’s in between your ears: no not your hair, your brain! To do what we preach and suggest to our kids. I see that across people and then across organisations. One changes the other, pushing the next. By being able to be consciously aware of what is actually happening around you, what happens in life, and how it is portrayed to you, how you portray things on the outside too. Exciting mind games, great discussions are fuelled on the back of these discussions I had this week. And it is exciting and it makes me grow and want more. I hope my book will reflect that too. And the more people I can get on board, the more exciting it gets for the journey along. It is about my 5 people I spend the most time with, they challenge me, they move me along.
And then there was the guy on the train, after a few beers, who explained to me how he works for a German bank, has an MBA, hates Brexit, worked in Switzerland and wrote a book. Lots of synergies there. We had a good yupp and catch up and I truly enjoyed speaking to him. These are those above random conversations that push you over, take over your thoughts and influence you. I might never meet the chap again, or maybe I will. But he would agree with all of the above and how you need to look in and take it beyond, and it all will fall into place eventually.
Enough of a brain-drain this week. Hope it was useful and sparked some thoughts.
This week got me hit a personal goal! I hit 5,000 connections on Linkedin! Yes, that means I am connected to 5,000 individuals, who admittedly I don’t all know. But, similar to Twitter, this is all about reach for me. Being able to connect, network and reach out with updates to that many people makes it fun. Great input whenever you need it. And it works well. Not only can I find useful connections, I also help others to connect. This can be very rewarding at times.
Otherwise it as an interesting week. Monday started with a busy, but not manic day. That means, in work terms, it was almost not a lot going on, when you can stay on top of things…or is it just mental any other day. Anyway, of course the week changed quickly. By Friday we were running around like headless chickens again 😉 And next week is end of month. I have a day trip to Germany and overall I have a lot going on. But that’s the way I like it. Always nice to have a few days where you can just cope 😉
Oh and oh no…you might remember that not only did I attend a Facebook event but I also went back on Facebook. At least for a few hours to post our shed which we wanted to sell locally. That’s me breaking my Facebook detox 🙂 Is Facebook the new Loot, the new FridayAd, the new Gumtree? For me it is and it makes perfect sense. We also managed to sell the shed in wake of us getting a custom one built next to the house. Work is halfway done and should be finished next week. We already ordered the alarm for the shed, the new garden hose, the Karcher, and the list goes on. I am very excited to see the finished piece that allows for more space in the garage to exercise…and for that I got new kettlebells, new flooring etc. I am very excited about transforming the space in the house.
In line with that, my next project is the spare bedroom which I want to be a second living room, chill out and play room, working and home office room at the same time. And of course, it being free for people when they come to visit us.
As you can probably tell, we plan a lot in the house. Next is still the upstairs’ ceilings to be smoothened, the heating pipes to be stopped from banging, some electrical stuff and a new carpet. Once that is done we still need to do the bathroom and driveway but I guess that’s next year. Let’s not rush and I didn’t win the lottery yet. However, I already envisage the new spare bedroom with lots of productivity and chill out gadgets 🙂 Poor wife!
Coming back to Facebook. A friend had a baby. Of course I wanted to see the little one and make sure he is ok, didn’t I? And Facebook is the place to do that. Did I feel I missed out on things in general? Did I go through the last 3 weeks of updates? NO. And since the detox I have been on it less often to be honest. The local groups slacking people off for cycling without helmets, trying to impose their standards on others…come on guys, each to their own and no need to have a go for people to be different.
Maybe I can use Facebook on a desktop only basis, only at weekends or something like that? Life was busy enough without it. I hardly have time for Twitter 🙁 Unless I can moan about the train services of course.
This leads nicely to my topic of rail fares. I renewed my annual season ticket, £3808. We worked it out, cheaper than driving to work. It was a heated debate at the local dad’s night on Friday whether we get value for money, dependance on the trains, working from home schemes, flexible hours and of course whether we should all work from Hassocks. Maybe not. Again, we chose to live here, partly because of the school. Those are oversubscribed already, just extended last year already, and now they want to build another few houses. Something is not adding up.
Ok, you don’t need a phd to work this one out. One wonders, with the upcoming election, what else is going on. Or you don’t. I try not to. Doesn’t mean I don’t care.
Just one word on Productivity before I let you go: Germans rule productivity, e.g. they focus on getting their work done to have more spare time with their clubs. Makes perfect sense to me 😉 Follow the link to see!
I had a fantastic family weekend. The boys are in a great age, and I really enjoy them!
One sad note to the end. As Rosie, our now 8 months old German Shorthaired Pointer doesn’t get along with the cat, or our 7 year old cat didn’t fight back when she was a puppy, we decided to rehome Hansel as well. It has been a fantastic 7 years with him. We had to rehome Gretel when, after she just coped with the babies, she didn’t cope with the new house. Now Hänsel. We are sad to see him go but as he confined himself to the garage and a good friend offered to take him, he will be a lot happier and better off.
Mid April, Easter holidays are over, and the kids went back to school. A trip to Germany, seeing Oma and Opa, and a visit by Granny. The boys are spoiled, in a good way, and before we know it, the boys will be off for their summer holidays. They are growing up very quickly.
Germany, on the other hand, for me was another realisation that I moved on. Literally. 14 years in the UK, never looked back, I cannot say I would anticipate to ever go back and/or live in Germany again. Nothing bad about the place, but the things I value are just not there. Luckily, my other German expats confirm my feelings – suppose it would be the same the other way around, when you get used to a way of living, that’s it really.
When we were in Germany, I copied my dad’s old Super8 movies onto my hard drive. Sure, the seventies and eighties were crazy, dad’s cheesy film music doesn’t help, but looking at those movies I am wondering how my kids will grow up and remember their childhood? 30 years from now they might write a post, an article or speak to someone about how they grew up. We are not much into taking videos, yet they might look at the thousands of pictures their mum took of them. And they will piece their own video together.
What will they remember? How they came down the stairs, daddy writing this post on his iPad, the dog stretched out on a chair in the living room, them asking, why I am so quiet? Probably not. But they will remember the trips to Germany and Scotland, the campervan, the excursion to the farm and all the other experiences and common trips we created. Legoland, maybe Disneyland one day.
They might remember sad experiences, deaths, accidents, bad grades in school, or when they got in trouble. I do. Yet looking at the Super8 movies one cannot help but think that the world was ok then, more peaceful. Yet it wasn’t. It was when wars were happening, the nuclear reactor Tchernobyl exploded and I fell out with mum and dad, just like any other kid in puberty. And so will my boys with me. Let’s hope it is for a short period of time only.
We are living in more peaceful times today. Yet, media tries to tell us life is more dangerous focusing on the bad and awful things. That’s how our mind works. That is how some scams work, luring people into donating money. However, we need to focus on the good things. Yes, life in the 80ies and 90ies was more peaceful. We didn’t have daily, hourly, minutely distractions from text messages, what’s apps, emails, Facebooks and so on. We didn’t even have mobile phones.
Can you imagine? Sitting on a train for an hour and having no clue what is actually going on? When the train arrives, not able to work on your emails, or call the wife? Unthinkable, yet also a huge distraction from what we do. Balancing that less peaceful life is today’s challenge. I am still on my Facebook detox for the month of April despite attending an event there for which I signed a lifelong NDA. Never mind. I don’t miss it but when we wanted to sell our shed via Facebook my wife had to take care of it. I probably only reached out to friends that are really close for their birthdays rather than writing on everybody’s wall, and I spend less time just killing time watching useless videos on Facebook. I will go back on, as Facebook is a connection platform, a tool to stay in touch with people.
The weekend was colder again, yet we were blessed with some sunshine. May the first days of summer remind you of the great days to come.
Bliss. Life is wonderful!
Love and happiness from my little place on this planet,
Let me start with the family this week. Easter was fantastic and with the slow uptake after Easter I got a chance to be home for bath time one night and with fantastic weather we had a great picnic this weekend.
Just yesterday Colin was very sweet. He has some kind of virus infection and isn’t in the best form. However, I jumped in the bath with Rohan and he was waiting for me to get out. So he asked if I need a towel. I said in German that I need a “bath towel”, e.g. Badetuch, rather than the “hand towel” he was pointing at. His answer was “I know daddy”. This is great. We also got some new noise books from Usborne and he couldn’t stop laughing at the farting monster 🙂 You can have conversations with him now. He tells you about things he has done or he has seen. Things that happened or what he likes. Rohan on the other hand is difficult. Wiggly when being changed, unresponsive when being fed. I cannot wait until they are both over 3 years old but wouldn’t want to miss the current stage in the world.
I never thought I developed into such a family guy. I am glad. I really enjoy it. But I also think that two are enough. We are so lucky having two healthy fantastic boys. I don’t want to chance it, and I don’t want to start all over again. I guess in many respects I am going extreme. With kids I think I am moderate for once.
Facebook: I felt almost awkward asking someone to be “my friend” on Facebook this week. Sounds coy and funny but actually it was a client. When I first started with Facebook I was adding everyone I know but recently applied the rule of people only being my friend on Facebook if I was to invite them to my birthday party. But I am glad, tying in with last week’s comment, that I find friends and mates within the industry.
Now on to something else. Sport, health, fitness, food. My wife insisted on us putting up our treadmill in the living room. So after Easter I started a 3 week programme myself. I even had to get new trainers and hope that I have less problems and pain in my ligaments in my foot/chins. Fingers crossed that by end of May I will be able to run 30 minutes in one go, be more fit and about 5 kg lighter. This all goes in line with better food, less alcohol and more “taking care of my body”.
Last but not least we had an industry networking event this week. Without wanting to drill into detail it was good to get some new industry gossip. And I was thinking back to “Games of Thrones” whilst talking to some folk. There is one elected king, someone / a company that seems to rule the ecosystem. But there is also a king in the background, someone / a company everyone follows and rules without being officially king.
Never mind. Things are odd but good I suppose. I am off to Germany next week, then travelling a whole lot during May. In June I should move and visit a friend’s wedding. And before I know it, it is Christmas 😉
Another week which felt like it was over on Thursday. Not sure why that was, but – you might have guessed – being another busy week, I also spend a lot of time thinking.
This week, not like most other weeks, I was home early most nights. I went in early a few times for client breakfasts and sorting out a new bank account, but other than that I managed to have a balanced life. That is of course if you ignore time on the HTC and time spend having a glass of wine working on presentations on the couch ;-(
On Thursday I met a good friend. I have only known him for just over a year but we somewhat “clicked”, meaning we really get along well. He just got a new job, a good job. So well done mate.
Then I opened a new bank account with Metro Bank. They are the no frill bank which has no fees but superb customer service. We shall see 🙂 However, I needed a simple additional current account which doesn’t charge any fees and which allows me to put some money out of sight. So for now, exactly what I was looking for.
Now you might have noticed that a few things on my blog changed. I spend some time with Facebook and Twitter integration and already saw an uplift in a) traffic and b) adsense earning 🙂
Most of the family had a cold this week. For some reason it was me that has been spared for now. Not that I felt great but I am still overcoming the cold from Easter, now the new cold I believe just came and left unnoticed 🙁
The weekend weather has been poorly. However, I met with an old friend who showed me around the Beckenham Cricket ground. The first time ever that I even looked at Cricket, lol. I still don’t get the rules 100% but got a lot closer. I think anyway.
We then had a lovely birthday party of one of Colin’s friends. We are entering the time again of 2nd birthday parties, e.g. I remember too well how many first birthday parties we attended last year. Guess that is going to be a theme between May and August now :-0
Sunday was another lovely day with the family. I am enjoying more and more to just “hang out” with the boys and getting up to things. Like riding the train, going for walks or just playing with the train set.
This Sunday we took them to the Christmas Tree Farm. Not like the name suggests a farm of trees but a little park with lamas, goats, sheep, pony, cows, horses….just nice for the kids to see some animals, and just over 30 minutes drive from home. Perfect for a quick Sunday outing.
Unfortunately Rohan and Colin both seem to be a bit poorly this weekend, so we weren’t able to do as much as we wanted. The joys…
Luckily there is a bank holiday tomorrow. So another long weekend. With my booked holidays I am looking at three 4 day weeks 🙂 Happy days for me.
So watch this space, I am trying to put more content and thoughts up.
Last weekend I watched the movie “The Social Network” which revealed the story behind Facebook. And, there is something I always wanted to mention: FACEBOOK WAS MY IDEA!
I graduated from German high school back in 1996, 5 years before Google started off. So if I am not mistaken about 8 years before Facebook was born. I know the twins actually had the idea and then got money from Zuckerberg because he stole their idea and modified it. All a nice story but…
In 1996 my friend Michael and I decided that after graduation we needed to come up with a website for everyone to stay in touch. The old Excel lists wouldn’t work for long, as no one sends their new data around, do they? But if they had an online profile to change it themselves they might. And, if things worked out we could extend it to other graduation years. As we all smoked Lucky Strike those days, we called the site “Lucky Abi 1996”. I googled it just now but I believe it has been taken down a few years ago 🙁
So me having the idea, supported by another friend called Marius, my friend Michael programmed the site. I wish back then we had thought ahead. But then I didn’t even have my own computer, didn’t even have an email I used regularly etc. etc. We were in the infancy of internet, if we had it at all to be honest. That was back then.
Still, I had early ambitions to be the business head of the venture whilst I had Michael to be our techie guy. A typical and usually well worth combination to have. But back then we were young, inexperienced and our parents wouldn’t have known or encouraged us to “open a business, calling it Facebook and roll profiles of people out across the world“.
I guess we could both now be rich, billionaires really. How good would that be? We cannot sue Mr. Zuckerberg though, assuming he never really looked at our site, or did he? If we can prove that he was on our site and maybe took some coding, would we have a case?
For now I let him off. But my next idea….I will make money with….of course I will….