Posts Tagged family time

Sunday Column (482)

Let me start with last weekend. My youngest attended a Beaver’s sleep over and on the way home he noticed that I downloaded a new song to my car playlist. Seems to happen after watching Steve Jobs on a Saturday night, over and over again. Walk on the Ocean….and Stronger Than I’ve Ever Been. He easily picks up on small changes. Not only was he keen on listening to the new songs, we went for a bit of a drive, to catch up, to listen to music and then go home. I absolutely love those moments when you have quality time together with your family, friends or people in general. Hence I strive of doing my podcasts, interviewing highly successful, and highly interesting people about their stories, about what they want to share that made them a bit more successful than their peers.

Just going with the flow, the little man sitting next to me on a booster seat, listening to tunes. This is heaven, I could have driven for miles without stopping, just the two of us, the music and the chat. That’s why I love taking him to Karate each Saturday. That’s our thing to do. Our thing!

On the note of my podcast; on Monday I recorded a fascinating chat with a fellow German. She went through an amazing transformation and now helps people to transform. I keep thinking that I should move to recruitment as I have learned that much about recruitment and understand the industry that well. You never know what’s next I suppose. Amazing transformations…

You know, when people talk about gratitude and giving, and being there for others, and helping. I just want to say here that I am grateful for all the help we received over the last few weeks. As you know I am contracting and therefore have to go to work as regular as possible, and also have to attend interviews to see where things are going to. Yet with my wife having had her eyes lasered, and her having had pain, sleepless nights and ‘complications’, the amount of help is overwhelming. I am very grateful for friends and neighbours taking the kids during hospital visits, taking them to school when I can’t and pick them up, driving them to tennis or just generally giving us a big hug that life will be better. Needless to say I happily return the favour, but that’s not what it is about. The sheer amount of positive energy we received, let me just say Thank You!

On Tuesday I took an early train again to a breakfast session on leadership change. Due to the above challenges I ended up booking my MIL a flight to London the same day, which was a huge relief to have her with us and not relying on too many people re basic daily tasks. Luckily by time of publishing the wife is a lot better (we even went out for a cheeky drink) but it is fantastic to see the help we received. Thanks again, and thank you MIL too! I never thought I was so glad to see her LOL (just kidding, I know you reading this 😉 ).

In other news. Were there other news? I keep myself so busy that on Thursday night I collapsed into bed. When you do two interviews in one day and have some other things going on….preparing a presentation for next week which you get so engaged in because you absolutely love doing what’s required. Where is this journey going to end? Nowhere. It’s a journey, where is the next stop? I want it to be long, intense, yet full of learning and full of fun. Can I make a difference? Whilst hopeful, I don’t want to jinx anything.

And maybe that’s it for this week. Let’s keep it short. Surely I have more time over Easter to write a bit more.

Not long now, I keep telling myself, thanks, from my little corner of the world….
Volker

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Sunday Column (468)

This week’s post is written on a keyboard I still need to come to terms with: My new MacBook Pro. Since Southern Rail reimbursed me my travel card, I could justify the hefty price tag to get a new laptop. It sounds crazy but the MacBook or the MacBook Air just don’t have enough power to really justify any investment past 1K. So the MacBook Pro, without the fancy touch bar, seems like the only reasonable machine out there if you want to buy an Apple. And I am overall quite happy with it. The keyboard, as said, needs getting used to, the touchpad too but you already know it is better than the old one on the Air, and definitely is similar to the external one; and last but not least, the display is amazing. Particularly compared to the Air. However, as friends warned me, connecting it to my 10 year old Dell screen, just doesn’t cut it. It feels like the Dell is fading, and I prefer to do the main work on the Retina display. Maybe there is another investment coming soon.

First world problems I suppose. On that note, Arnold Schwarzenegger was very outspoken this week about climate change and someone in a podcast said that we are the first generation that actually has enough data to make an informed decision. And, we cannot ignore the fact the world is changing. Minus degrees, snow, it being cold and the fire is on, cosy nights with wine. The next day T-shirt weather and rain, it being around 10 degrees. No, this isn’t normal, and I don’t need to be a meteorologist to figure that one out. What to do? I am still thinking of how I can contribute to the greater good moving forward.

A friend of mine had a website a few years ago about connecting dots. And Steve Jobs is most famous for saying you connect those dots looking back, even if looking forward we can’t see it yet. And it is Anthony Robbins who said that the brain is wired to avoid fear, because that’s how it was millions of years ago. There is history and if we look back, we cannot predict the future – still. But with climate change we can say: it is real!

I figured, sometimes in life we just need to sit still and listen. We need to connect with friends and family, new people and get input. And based on the input we get, we redefine our lives. We all do that, all the time. However, doing it consciously, and deliberately reviewing your life’s purpose, is something else. That’s what I have been doing over the last few weeks, since I took redundancy. I am open about it, because I am wired to talk, to write, to share thoughts. I am not wired to be a great motivational speaker on a stage, as my background is very scientifically grounded. Of course, one doesn’t exclude the other. What I am trying to say is that what I like to produce is profound, which is why I was successful in my sales career: no BS. Ever. Win/Win. Always. And the input this week was as good as last week, maybe a complete different directions. That’s what I call a growth mindset, and I am keen on not doing anything for a few days over Christmas.

This feels like a year end post already. Despite being a bit put off by ‘my’ digital industry, I cannot stay away. Having been at a few Christmas drinks this week, it is so great to see people from the industry I have known for years. That is fun and continues next week, with even more and closer friends. The industry is part of me, and I am part of it. I love technology, and particularly technology pushing boundaries and being in a position to improve the ecosystem and deficicies. My tasks got bigger from selling ads to influencing the way we see the ecosystem and how we approach it. Things are changing. I am changing. And some of the tech I have been speaking about over the past few weeks has been amazing.

I am also deep into personal development and change. Not only in theory with my book about productivity and articles on growth mindsets that I write and that resonate well, but also the application of this on a daily basis. Being one of the few that never struggle with their workloads and emails for instance. It’s about getting things done and putting out more than others at higher quality. But at the same time looking at your balance and work culture for your team. This is difficult when we look at value creation versus hours worked. Quantity vs. Quality. Another discussion this week.

So I have been thinking on how to best combine the two things. In the New Year I will make a few personal announcements. I plan to launch a few things that are more personal development related, that fuel my passion and hopefully your interest in the personal development space. And the main thought for me: focusing on Europe, rather than the US. There is a lot of good influence coming from the US, but I believe we need more focus on what’s happening in our world. Things we can apply to what’s in front of us. There is a lot of great stuff coming from the US and I love those motivational gurus and ideas, but the market is so different to Europe, to the UK. Size and scale are only a small part of it, culture is another.

On the other hand I will continue to focus on changing the world, changing the ecosystem we are living in from a digital and technology perspective. Helping others to understand what’s happening and how to be back in control. Being able to change the world, maybe, and even if it is a little bit at a time.

As Christmas is around the corner things are slowing down. Decision making is almost coming to a stand still. I have taken more online courses and made first decisions. I will disclose at the appropriate times but two projects are secured. Both are, so far, unfunded, e.g. freelance without pay. That is ok though, as there are thoughts behind it. I keep you posted. You, my friends, will be the first to know about my new endeavours and ideas. No, they aren’t related to climate change but there is no reason they won’t be moving forward. One just doesn’t know, do you?

Just finishing the week, we went to the Brighton game on Saturday. I wanted to go back for over a year, when I first took the boys to a football match. And my first one too. So this time my wife joined and we had a great family time. My youngest missed out on his best friend’s birthday party in favour of the game. Creating those experiences are fun, and then it doesn’t matter whether you win or loose. To be there, engage fully, and being part of something, that is key and much more valuable than winning or losing.

Have a great Christmas. Wind down, give your loved ones a hug and make sure you stay warm and safe.

All the best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (335)

We are back from a week off. Similar to Marissa Mayer from Yahoo, I believe that I rather take a week off, and that more often, than having a longer holiday. Particularly at the stage I am in life with family and job. As long as you don’t worry and don’t work that week at all, you can really wind down. And having a few ‘one weeks’ off a year suits us currently well as a family and also works best in my current work situation.

We went to Devon, glamping, glamorous camping, in a yurt. That was fun! Back to basic staying on an organic vegetable farm. The yurt was spacious, heated up during the day and was pleasant at night. The roof light made me wake up reasonable early, 6-7 am, so I fit in my exercise and meditation routine. The family stayed asleep.

The kids and even I slept 12 hours often, a real wind down, I am chilled. Back to nature, a roof light through which you saw the moon. The door opened to the East to get the morning sun in. A fantastic, peaceful setting. A somewhat miraculous space I have to say, and we could sit outside some nights enjoying the moon rise and a glass of wine. It was great. Unfortunately we had some rainy days too, so ended up driving home Friday night rather than Saturday during the day. However, this wasn’t due to dislike but a decision based on traffic, things to do and yes also comfort and weather 😉

yurt

The yurt experience was back to basics. Firstly, and most annoyingly, not even 3G coverage, no emails, no Facebook. Latter wasn’t bad of course but not being able to use Google Maps when lost, Strava for tracking your runs or looking at (personal) emails I found challenging. Yet it was a good digital detox. After two days I found a Costas, and then regularly free wifi in shops and tourist attractions to get my digital fix.

The toilet was wood chip based, or flushed, e.g. no water. The hand basin, both located a short walk up the hill, was ok to wash hands yet for UV filtered water to drink we had to walk down the hill to the farm. A power shower, solar powered lights and hot water were there too. Sustainable. That’s where we charged our phones, which batteries lasted forever not being used often, wifi turned off most of the time. That was a first.

It makes you think about rubbish, recycling and a self sustainable life style. A bit hippyish, sharing the communal space. We liked that. Veggies and fruit as much as we liked. Fresh eggs. However, we almost had a bad conscious eating our pre-packed chicken thighs and sausages from Tescos creating a lot of rubbish. Was there guilt?

Not really. They didn’t try to make us feel bad, it was us! What I mean by that is that one reconsiders. Could I buy things differently packed? In Germany when I was 14, so well over 20 years ago, they introduced a 5 cents (10 Pfennigs really) charge for plastic bags. We, in our environmental group, bought things in supermarkets which were packed a few times and unpacked them to demonstrate the amount of unnecessary rubbish. Nothing has changed but that I accepted the rubbish. Dropping principles I suppose, giving in to the money making machinery of supermarkets.

That makes me think. Did I accepted the fact that we pollute the planet, that I cannot afford individual wrapped sausages from the butcher, that I buy ‘convenience’ or that I, me personally, will not be able to change the world?
It is probably a combination of all of the above. I alone cannot change the world and life moved on, so I went the path of least effort and resistance. Why would I want to be the odd one out, trying to explain to others how it is done? I was never confident to do that, and also believe circumstances didn’t allow me to.

I would encourage it though. The hippyish lifestyle of our yurt owners is something to envy. The idea of living of your own land, sustain yourself, stick to your principles. And this is more a guess than me interviewing them about details. The bit to be a bit different. Hence it is nice to be back to basics for a week. Re-learning and letting the boys understand that not all packaged food has to be packaged and some food grows on trees. One can pick one’s own raspberries, beans, blackberries, salad…and collect fresh eggs. We try that at home sometimes too. So maybe we aren’t that bad after all. Maybe a week in the country side does help us to connect, connect with Mother Earth, in a very old fashioned hippy way. And it feels great, calming, soothing.

It almost feels romantic, giving something back to life, to humanity, to world peace maybe. Could I do it? I always used to say I am a banker and work 24/7 or a sheep farmer in the Australian out backs. Black or white, extreme. I am never going to be a farmer, rather a monk, and I don’t believe I will own a Harley Davidson driving through America either. No, I work more like the banker but with additional family time. I have just a usual life. Happy. Content in my own world. Probably just normal. Nothing wrong with it I suppose. Ordinary really.

That doesn’t mean I can’t dream or try. Every now and then escape. Being able to waste a day, being in bed doing nothing. Letting the kids roam ‘wild’ and enjoying the being in the now. Exploring the woods, nature and sitting on a wood chip toilet overlooking the countryside. Having a digital detox in a first world country.

It was a great week away.
We loved it.
A first trip of a journey back.

Love and happiness from my corner of the world.
Volker

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Sunday Column (185)

Another busy week. Or just normal I guess. Busy is the new normal. Not complaining, wouldn’t want it any other way. So where are we?

Colin started pre school. A big step for a wee man. Separating from mum in the morning is difficult. His dad cried half an hour in kindergarten before he spoke to any one. Colin cried 30 seconds by end of week. He is a real man. Quirky, bendy, agile, friendly – a real character.

Latter is true for his dad too. To this day I guess. We went through change this week with him. Him growing up and us as parents learning a lot about our kids, and other kids. I love it.

New challenges, not being bored. We all need those changes and challenges. Most of the time things are really going well and sometimes they don’t. Never mind. But the challenge is there. If you loose the challenge, life is getting boring. Same with jobs I suppose, so no problem there.

20120915-190003.jpg New beginnings this week? Our new office at work, I started running before work again and my back is improving day by day. Things are good, new challenges. Only drawback is some kind of man flu bug. Think I am getting it too. Rohan has been poorly this weekend.

I spend two days in Germany this week at the world’s largest exhibition and conference for online and digital marketing: dmexco in Cologne. Having sold exhibitions before and being familiar with the industry I can confidently say that this is the best show I have seen, the must attend event in Europe. I met friends and industry colleagues from all over the world. Some I have known for many years. Of course those days are exhaustive but fun. I remember we used to hope for 10,000 visitors a few years ago but never achieved it. dmexco 2012 welcomed 22,000! Well done!

On Thursday night I was glad to be back home. I fell asleep on the couch quickly. It was worth it. Friday wasn’t much better. The man flu build up, lack of sleep and long days. Next week doesn’t look better.

The weekend was rather quiet. Quality family time. Wow. I seem to either get older or wiser. Saturday morning Colin and I went shopping so I could prepare a Greek chicken dish for my wife at night. The afternoon we spent in Brighton shopping, or attempting to anyway. I really have problems finding a nice blazer. But we found a lot of cloths for the boys. Success.

To round up a good weekend we went for a long exhaustive walk. The South Downs are beautiful. I love living where I live. Like being on holidays.

Have a good week.
Volker

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Sunday Column (43)

What do you when you don’t have huge amounts to do? Nothing you would assume.

No, I have been busy preparing bits and pieces for my new job, finding an office and most of all spending a lot of time with the family. That time, no matter how good any job is ever going to be, will never come back. And, trust me, time flies even if you are “just at home”, e.g. my parents were here for a fantastic weekend, we went shopping, got a Christmas tree, went for long walks, enjoyed the snow, or just “hung out together” – usually the boy and me on the couch for a two hour afternoon nap 😉

Tuesday I managed to finally finished cutting and editing the video of Colin, just in time for Christmas. I should not mention it here because copies are on its way to some folk 🙂 On Wednesday we had our annual fraternity Christmas Diner in the Grenadier, a nice pub with excellent food. It makes me reflect on the time in the fraternity in Germany and how important these things still are for me. I think they are less and less important but I am happy to support the efforts and the “esprit de corps

Thursdays was the usual Tai Chi with drinks afterwards. It was the last one before Christmas and also the last one until Mid January for me. So I need to really practise during the festive season. I think it would be good for my spiritual development though.

Friday we had a lot of snow but I had to find an office for my new job. I ended up finding one very close to St. James Park tube station, within walking distance of Victoria. That will be nice as it cuts my commute significantly and I will be sharing the place with other people to make my work not too lonely.

The weekend went past very quickly. We spend a lot of time with neighbours and friends, having a fantastic time.

I keep this entry short but will have a years’ review before Christmas.
Volker

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