Posts Tagged Family

Sunday Column (504)

There have been a few topics on my mind this week. My wife, including kids, went to visit the MIL and left me alone for the bank holiday weekend. That is fair enough, as I usually organise a cracking weekend with the lads. However, this time around, people are busy, non committal and are still on holidays themselves. Hence the appetite wasn’t there. I ended up working a lot on my podcasts and some content I will publish over the forthcoming weeks and did some training to improve my long distance running.

What I wanted to note was the bachelor life. Similar to above’s reason, I wasn’t out every night, just instead binge watched Amazon’s Bosch every night, and enjoyed good food, great sleep and my own routine. I noticed that dishwashers aren’t made for single households and that shopping delivery seems almost useless given the amount I need. My drinking went right back, as drinking on your own just isn’t the same anymore. I would even go as far as I was lonely. But of course I wasn’t, having had calls from my son, the above podcast recordings, three cats etc., I was busier than I was hoping for to be honest. No complains though.

It’s just different when no one is around, despite the cats. However, it is also a great time for reflection and doing what ever the f* you want, including sleeping in and napping whenever it suits you 🙂 But it is only ever enjoyable knowing the family comes back.

When we went on holidays this year, my wife offered our house to a family to stay. Their renovation overran and they couldn’t stay in their place. Also, they had guests arriving from afar, which didn’t allow for any rescheduling. We didn’t know the family that well, maybe the odd exchange on a kid’s party, and went with trust and gut feeling and let them stay. I remember speaking to my dad about it and he said, that there should be nothing to worry about. Of course one imagines what someone staying at your house could do, but honestly, the majority of people are good. The ones staying in our house were great actually.

Where am I leading with that? The family staying in our house of course lived differently to us. And this is not criticism but pure reflection. Things broke which is normal wear and tear, and things got moved. Things that broke got replaced, and misplaced things got moved back. No big deal. And whilst I might look too much into it, for me it was realising that actually it does not matter where you put your plates and glasses. Or whether someone does things differently. Because in the end of the day everyone does their own thing, their own routine. Similar to when you are home alone, you don’t run the dishwasher that often, fill up the fridge or empty the bin. Or whatever it is.

I enjoyed both. The experience of being solo again and the experience of someone staying at our place. I actually consider the latter again, but only if I find similar great guests again 🙂 We were very lucky and hope to stay in touch and maybe even become friends down the line. Who knows. After all we literally lived in each other’s beds 😉

Expanding your horizon they say, and we did that, and going with your gut, and we did that too. And doing a weekend what you want to do without being considerate to others at all, I did that too 🙂

Enjoy the week ahead and the bank holiday tomorrow, another day off 😉

Volker

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Sunday Column (502)

This is my holiday post. So a bit more personal, less topical. I am sure I wrote it the other day – apologies but I have a few articles sitting at the ready, so I don’t remember where the wording is – that I am not much of a holiday person. I find it difficult to switch off, so this time I tried to force myself to switch off, which of course doesn’t work either. Having said all that I had a relaxing time, and the amount of sleep I got was amazing. Plus, thanks for the feedback regarding my topical posts, I am glad you are enjoying them.

Having finished my contract work and got my first few days at the new job, having a two week break should be easy. And actually, it was. I was yet thinking a lot about the job, but I refrained from checking emails etc., as I am too fresh into the job as someone really needs to rely on me. Hence, this was probably my only chance for a while for a “work detox”. And I am keen to get busy for one job only too.

On the other hand, I cannot sit still. I am creating an article a day almost, topical blog posts, thinking about my career and developing my podcast ideas. As the brain relaxes, there are new brain connections to be made, resulting in new input, new ideas and fresh thoughts. I try not to write on my book though and focus on other things first. There are podcasts I am going through whilst running and seeking new inputs. Not many podcasts recently chime a chord, and I found books that I put away after a few pages. Time for change is on the horizon. If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always got!

However, holidays 🙂 Yes, I enjoyed our two week break. We went to Singapore. A lot of people warned us that 10 days were too long but given we lived in a hotel/flat complex where we had our own little flat, pool and breakfast, this was as much a pool holiday as exploring the city as visiting family living out here. And it wasn’t too long. It also was the idea of introducing the kids to a different culture, whilst knowing it is one of the safest places you can imagine. What’s not to like? A holiday where we could use the gym to keep up with our training, park the boys in the pool for half a day whilst writing blog posts, and meeting expats that just came over to Singapore and stayed at the complex before the final move to a long term arrangement. The kids and us both loved it. The weather of course was amazing, hot and humid, just as it was when we left the UK 🙂

I finished reading Richard Branson’s ‘Loosing my Virginity’ biography (the latest one) as well. It was a stunning read and I read a lot about things I didn’t know he was doing. It almost felt like he had me around for a cup of tea, whilst telling me the story of his life. Not only do I agree with him on most topics like Brexit, Trump, Obama and others, the Elders, climate change and saving the world, are all topics I am keen on investing more time on. It almost feels like I would love to work for him on some projects now and help him make a difference. Let’s see where my life will develop into, as I only turned 40+1, wrote 500 blog posts and finding my own path as we speak. I got plans, they slowly materialise and are put on the right tracks I feel. Patience, as always, is the key to everything. Anyway, I tweeted that man, allegedly he reads them all, maybe I might get a reply too.

Another thing I learned on holidays, and would love to have people’s opinion that experienced similar, is the saying ‘Sorry, I don’t think it is worth it’. I said that to (luckily) a friend who when I apologised laughed, but I didn’t mean it in an offensive way at all. I texted him saying ‘attending his birthday party, giving timing and train journeys, is not worth it’ – in German ‘lohnt sich nicht’. It made me think, as neither the German expression or the English one is meant in a negative way. However, the Germans are very direct in their language and appeal to the nature of the event, saying it is hardly worth anyone’s time to be at a party for 1-2 hours. The Brits on the other hand see it as ‘you are not worthwhile my time at all’. Latter is very rude, former is German directness, hence I me translating one with the other isn’t working at all. I can see that now and hope I haven’t offended anyone prior to this, or won’t in the future. Anyway, if I come across to anyone as rude again, just let me know. Most of the time this isn’t intentional and might just be down to a wrong translation.

And that’s really it from our holiday. I was asked why there haven’t been any pictures shared on social media, and I’d like to answer it here. I enjoyed the holidays. We took about 850 pictures and we had a fantastic time. Family and friends would have seen some pictures, but I personally do not think that I need put an album up on Facebook or Instagram to share what a great time we had. I have been thinking a lot about social media recently and it is nobody’s business to see the intimicy of our holidays, or for me to show off what a fantastic, expensive hotel we lived in. Does that make sense? Oh and it wasn’t that expensive either. I have never done that in the past, and that was partly due for me not wanting people to know I was away, but this time we had someone staying at our house at home, so this was the time to let people know where we went. It is different when you are on work trips I believe, and you will find the odd picture on social media, but the majority….I do not know, not for me anymore. In the past I shared far too much, not thinking about implications but these days I feel a lot wiser tbh.

I came a long way, as did Facebook for the past 12+ years, of how I use social media. And when I think back to when I was a child, I had 2-3 rolls of film, 36 pictures each, and had to develop them after the holidays for expensive money. Now over 20 times as many pictures are sitting at the palm of my hand. I saw people running around with GoPro cameras and I wonder if anyone ever sits on holidays and takes on the experience, and to remember it the way they want it to be remembered? What I mean is that we had good and bad times, as you always have anywhere you go, and I just want to remember the good bits. That’s what I have always done, I don’t need to monitor everything all the time and sometimes like to let go.

Actually, I do feel a lot more relaxed than before, a lot better for it and fear the jet lag, the shorter nights, the going back into the routine and….I will be fine. And unlike me, I am planning the next holiday already. The boys would move out to Singapore in a heart beat, let’s see if we can discover more places like that. Let’s be Brexit ready, but before we know it I am in a new job, new routine, the boys will attend the same school and we get a deal for Brexit and life will just move on as we knew it. Won’t it?

Have a great week ahead,
Volker

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Sunday Column (490)

I remember this girl in school who everytime it was summer, she had hay fever. It never affected my friends or myself and whilst on the one hand we felt sorry, on the other hand we never understood. Whilst being over 40, you don’t expect to develop new allergies, and looking at my exercise diaries over the past four years, there is a pattern emerging. Going back to a conference in 2015 in Berlin where I had a bad night’s sleep, some booze and had to get some antihistamine tablets, blaming the beer. Today I know it was and is hay fever. Being tired, sluggish almost, itchy eyes and irritation. Who would have guessed all those years back that I will suffer from hay fever, and consistently around mid to end of May. Whatever trees are blossoming – oak, birch, pine or ash.

Life is changing. Nothing in life is a constant but maybe your family. I drafted another article which I hope will be published next week, where I discuss the consulting role vs. the permanent role in adtech. We all had to get GDPR ready for the past 2 years, yet companies still aren’t ready. The deadline is next Friday. 5 more sleeps. The expectations are that 20% of advertising will be diminished or less targeted, making it less effective, so advertisers spend less money, affecting the industry. And then there is Brexit, and I definitely want to be Brexit ready. Life isn’t all plain sailing. I am so curious to see where we are in a year from now, two years even. I hope we are still where we are today, I like it here, and the setup is nice, but will it be the best we can do for the family. What do we sacrifice and for how long?

Yet I am in the middle of organising a street meet in our cul-de-sac. I would like to get most neighbours together and make sure we are building a strong community. Most of us plan to live here for life. Wouldn’t it be nice to get to know everyone, share some experience and greet more knowingly on the street. You know what I mean, life is too short to not know who you share your street with. That’s my opinion anyway. But I have always been outgoing, like to meet new people and I am curious about others.

In other news, besides the lovely wedding this weekend, on Sunday last week, just because I hadn’t had time to see my barber, I asked the wife to cut my hair. Luckily she did and when my oldest saw me, he said ‘Daddy, did you put some grey hair colouring in’, which is ever so charming. Of course he doesn’t mean that in a bad way, and maybe it is me having a mid life crisis (again!) to realise that I am now older than others, and more mature, and carry the decisions and lead by example and being the person I have to be. Not sure that all makes sense, but it is great to see how the boys start to understand my humour (not easy!) and how they grow up ‘under the influence’ of myself. What I am trying to say is that you see how they pick up certain things, good and bad, from their parents. Bless.

Stories of success

Those are my main thoughts this week. It has been a busy week and a lot of things I do at the moment are about timing, about having the right conversations, balancing things. I met an amazing start up which I can only promise a certain amount of days due to other commitments. But I really love what they are doing, so I was very honest to see what we can do. You know, it is as if now and then you come across those opportunities and you know you want to get more involved. And then there are those logical decisions, and they are good too.

Worry less and live more. Or as my podcast guest this week said: be fearless. Not the podcast that is live at the moment but the lady I interviewed this week. I will share more info when the recording goes live but the amount I learned from her in an hour interview was more than I had learned in the week before combined. Thank you.

That’s all folks, enjoy your week ahead. Mine will be busy, good busy! And of course if my grammar is too bad, please let me know (@L).

Cheers,
Volker

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Sunday Column (483)

Happy Easter.
Happy April.

Monday. Did you notice? At least in Hassocks, there was sun. Sunshine, it felt like spring, and I bought the boys some ice cream. I had the day off, took the wife to hospital and her eyes are healing. Things are coming together, which is nice, and we were all looking forward to Easter. To go swimming and make bread, cook some nice food and go for long walks. They say it is going to be cold, but not sure it will be. It cannot be cold, I want sunshine, no? And last Sunday I almost forgot to turn the clocks forward. What a difference it makes in terms of sunlight, but of course it makes me tired. Look at the blog posts from the last few years around March: fresh air, more light, and I am tired. Germans call it ‘spring tiredness’, and I will overcome it. Too much to do, lots to arrange.

It has been a fairly busy and intense week, with a bit of a cliff hanger. But I am getting used to it. As doors close, other doors open, and as a friend described it the other day: Volker, he said, as you push things out into the universe to do their thing, you need to sit back and wait for the results. Ok, I keep doing that. Fingers crossed. Just on Thursday I had a chat with someone where I realised that things could get busy quickly. I am excited, yet tired, yet energetic. Not sure that makes sense, but the dots will connect looking backwards, I am 100% sure. Nothing happens over Easter, enjoy the time off.

Sometimes you just have to dive into things. I remember in 2010 when I dived into this ‘RTB’ thing that turned ‘programmatic’. Take a leap of faith and trust it works out. Life is far from linear and there are so many leaps of faith around at the moment, maybe that’s what it is. Then something else came up this week where I thought that, wow, I’d love to get involved. Patience it is, and programmatic turned out to be a hit, so why shouldn’t this one. One thing I learned is to not update LinkedIn anymore. Who really cares, or the ones that really care will know. Does that make sense? I am fed up of living a life for others to judge by the CV I put online, or the reputation I have on paper. People who know me, worked with me and supported me over the last few years know what I am like and what value I add. That’s important, not a piece of social media where anyone could put anything. Time to do things without telling everyone. No?

Easter came too early for me this year. That’s how I feel anyway. Things are early yet late, yet unknown. However, the boys needed the break, and we spend a lovely weekend together. Those are the times you need to cherish and you need to use to foster growth in them. Create experience as Mike says in the podcast coming up after Easter. Having interviewed a few people for my podcast this week, there was one lady suggesting her mum giving her a mantra along the lines of “you can handle this” – isn’t that amazing. If you can install in your kids early to be able to trust and go through any situation, they will have more confidence than others, being able to master more complex and difficult situations. We used to have the mantra ‘Always remember you are being loved‘ on the kitchen wall.

My wife used a different phrase recently called ‘parent guilt’ – that you as a parent are not feeling that you gave 100%. You weren’t there for pick up, school evenings, breakfast or bed time story. Yet, they still love you and often don’t notice whilst you have the guilt. Of course you have regrets and I am sure my parents would, and it is normal. Like with anything else in life, just accept the fact that you cannot be perfect, you cannot control everything, and move on. You cannot be there all the time, and the little ones often don’t notice. Just be present, that’s my advice, as much as you can when you are with them. Share the love and hugs, be there when they ask for help, and really need you. Ignore your phone or social media. In person or at the other end of the phone line – day and night.

I hope you and your family had a great Easter too.

Best wishes,
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 (475)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck,
Volker

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Sunday Column (472)

Another week in January, already half way through the first month. I started writing this early in the week. I have a new creative outburst this year it seems, e.g. I love putting thoughts into writing and talking (see last week’s post with the info on my podcast Stories Of Success). And I am proud to announce that the first (solo) episode went live this week. Check it out. Also, I conducted first interviews which, post production, will be published over the forthcoming weeks. This has been fun and and exciting.

Not sure I mentioned this before, but on weekends, as you would, time is reserved for the family. That is very important for me, as normally I am not around that much during the week. Having said that, I truly enjoy the school runs at the moment, however it seems that whilst this week was still quieter than anticipated, my diary is filling up for the next weeks. Fingers crossed to get back into the ring and get some, even if temporary work. I am starting to go stir crazy 🙁

Anyway, on Saturdays for instance, I love getting a lie in (that means 7 am for me at the latest) and then have breakfast with the boys who are usually up at that time, before taking the youngest to Karate. When I was a child I wanted to do Judo. Mainly because a friend of mine did Judo. Years later I got into Tai Chi and loved it, and think that hindsight I would have benefited from learning a martial arts when I was younger. If I say it wasn’t done in those days, I would be lying. Everything was done, but a lot of things you did were more conventional, not exotic, and martial arts were probably seen as exotic.

As I describe in my podcast, I used to think a lot about what others thought, and that’s probably down to the way I was brought up. That has changed, and when my boy decided to take up martial arts, I would get up at 3 am at the weekend to make it happen. There are always excuses, unless you just move forward and do it. To conquer a fear or an imagined fear. No one really cares what you look like or if you do one thing or another, and you shouldn’t really care if they approve or not. Who are those people that think they can approve or disapprove what you do with your life? That’s the same with a lot of topics, the immediate one I can think of is your sexuality. You shouldn’t worry if you are gay for instance, and neither do I. Unfortunately, this hasn’t always been the case in our society, and neither was it common place to do martial arts. Life is changing for the better. Just see the #metoo campaign lately. Rant over 😉

You know that I have been looking for a job. No news yet, and I believe it will take another few weeks to be honest. I am not very good at sitting at home doing nothing, and until you know what project you do next, you are a bit restless. Potentially I might sign a short term contract as a consultant, yet it is about the bigger picture, the long term perspective. And there are plans, as always.

There is a thought of moving out of advertising technologies (adtech) industry and move to a different industry. Discussing that with a friend this week showed that I am not the only one 🙂 As a matter of fact most people I speak to think about it. That’s never a good sign, is it? I don’t yet have to make a decision on anything but I have been thinking about that for the past weeks. Adtech has been good to me, and I have been working in it for over ten years, pioneering some of the stuff we are taking for granted and yet still, people make it sound complicated. I love my mates in the industry and it is a fun and dynamic industry too. I speak to more and more people recently that are fed up of people who made it to the top and don’t have a clue about what’s happening. The industry is due a change in 2018, and I won’t bore you with the details here, but I believe that a big change is going to happen. The old model and set up of agencies specialising in different discplines and consultancies being specialist in some aspects of it, won’t work. I see them two joining together, delivering strategy and execution at the same time. What that means is that agencies will become more strategic with clients across the board, not only around media and creative, and consultancies becoming more hands-on with delivery and execution.

Adtech will be at the heart of this merging with Martech. Martech will just become part of an overall technology stack, software essentially. Whilst this transformation will still take 3-5 years, there will be lots of turmoil. M&A will fuel all that and big telecoms will buy those technologies, ending up with a few original adtech players like Google but also telecoms being the owner of technologies. I am excited for that industry and love it. However, being in the middle of it won’t be too much fun, as something will have to give, and quite frankly, I could do with a bit more stability in life on the job front, in order to focus more of my spare time on my number one priority: family and kids.

Now don’t get this as a too negative notion on adtech. I am still speaking to a few companies in adtech and some have some smart solutions. Just this week I spoke to an interesting company which has a niche solution delivering incremental ROI. That is so cool! That’s when I get still excited. And yes, likelihood is I am back in adtech before we know it, but let’s also be honest and watch the space as it is changing.

So, that’s all from me folks. More news next week.
Volker

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Sunday Column (469)

Merry Christmas.

Given today is the Holy Night, and Christmas morning tomorrow, I don’t anticipate many people reading my column. That is fair enough. It should be a time of year when you don’t check your social media and relax a bit. You should have down time, and you should not have to worry about what is happening in the world. Christmas for me is all about having a week off, knowing everyone else is off, and you are not missing out on anything.

Merry Christmas to you, peace and happiness.

I want to use this week to look back – personally – on the year. It has been a turbulent one to say the least.

First things first: family. My first priority. We keep on learning how to bring up our children, we make things up as we go along, and I am absolutely enjoying it. From holidays in Centre Parks, travel to Legoland and day trips down the coast, Brighton football games, grandparents visits and trips to Germany, and time for the wife and me in Edinburgh or London. It has been an eventful but good year, and – being hopeful to say that every year from now on – we are getting better at being a family. Not that we weren’t before, but I am a strong believer in a growth mindset, and a collective unconscious. I feel like things are falling into place and we are growing together, and that is so nice to feel and experience. To speak of two things that made my year, I’d say the youngest starting and enjoying Karate classes, and the oldest working hard for 6 months to win a trophy in football. I couldn’t be happier or prouder of my two boys, and without my wife, Jenny, I couldn’t be doing all this. She has been on my side for 10+ years and I love you more every day! I am very grateful, thankful and full of appreciation of what we have.

On the other hand there is my career, which still takes up most of my week. That’s true for work for most of us. In January I joined a plc which I knew might be sold or change its proposition in one form or another. It was somewhat a gamble to join them, yet you never know who might buy a company. Looking back it was the right decision as I got to work with some very talented people, joined a fantastic culture and got a lot of learning from it. Unfortunately, I spent 2-3 days a week in Germany from April to October. That took time away from the family, and juggling two jobs, this put a lot of strain on me, family and the job I was originally employed to do in the UK. But I made it work, working from taxis, airports and making up with the family at the weekends. I loved the experience and sincerely think that I made a difference for the company. I lost out on a lot of things at home and burned a lot of energy.

Then over the summer things got quiet and the company sold. It became apparent, that moving forward, my role might be made redundant. I did what I could to avoid redundancy but likewise appreciate the help and support I got in the process prior to leaving last month. Whilst redundancies are never nice, I have so far enjoyed the time off to re-position myself, to re-evaluate my life and career. I might even go as far as saying that I have grown and gotten more confident. I know what I am doing and got confirmation of that a few times in the past few weeks. New projects will be announced early 2018. Based on the first few months of the year, I shall decide what the long term plans are. Most importantly, I am looking forward to align work closer to my values and my life expectations. Similar to the family, I am growing up too, still, always growing. And the break of a few weeks was needed, I felt burned out a bit. But I got my energy back, and that is the most important part, and of course I made up for some lost time with the family.

In the meantime I want to spend as much time as possible with the most important people in my life. As I do over Christmas. My family. Having had the privilege to spend more time with them over the past few weeks was amazing. From school drop offs and pick ups, them helping me testing some new equipment, watching Star Wars and making a routine and habit work at home. I am training them well I think 😉 They make me realise every day why I am doing what I am doing. They are my inspiration and motivation. Somewhat I enjoyed working and juggling two jobs and a family and going out of my comfort zone whilst upholding a 5 am routine and exercise, and meditation and personal development practise. As I said, I grew over the year, and that is the most important thing for me. It makes me who I am. I am happy. Yet, closer to Christmas I did notice my body getting tired, so time to have a few days off and relax.

A turbulent year. Just as well I am now relaxing and unwinding for a few days. And so should you, to my point earlier, there is nothing to miss out on. Don’t feel guilty and have another glass of wine, the extra piece of cheese or turkey/goose/duck. And if you are a grinch like me and don’t like Christmas, or you might not celebrate it due to religious reasons, enjoy the quiet time. Enjoy not having to read emails, not having to watch the news and spend some time looking deep inside yourself. Embrace yourself. And hug the person next to you, show them appreciation for them being them and being here.

And thoughts for 2018….you are the one that already knows where you want to be, what you should be doing and what is right in life. And you must always trust that the dots connect looking backwards. Hence, move forwards, always, and the right path will open up. You know it will. Trust in the future.

Speak to you in the New Year. All the best for 2018.

Love and Kindness, Peace and Happiness, and of course a Merry Christmas.
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 (466)

We are expecting the coldest night this year…or by time of reading, we would have had it. Nice, finally winter, and again from tomorrow it should get warmer. Is that global warming? Is that the beginning of the end? Anyway, the cold days are lovely, particularly if you have time to spend it with the family in front of a fire, after attending the annual ‘Light Up Hassocks’, the annual pre Christmas fair.

Some of you have noticed my more spiritual approach to things, my motivational quotes on Instagram. I have daily mantras, LOA (law of attraction) and believe the mindset is key to survival, future developments and success. Part of it is getting out of bed at 5 am – despite not working 9-5, I am still getting up at 5 am, go running or do my weights. It is getting harder, mainly because I challenge myself a bit more, but also because it is so cold. However, the effort is worth it, my circumference is back down to where it was a year ago, my weight is on track. I stopped counting calories and continue the journey. That’s what it is: a journey to weight loss, a healthier life. The bigger picture: a journey of life to survive, to live happily.

Having time is one thing. Starting a business is another. And combining the start of a business with having time is a good thing, I suppose, as you can focus on the business and have time for it too. Yet there is no income as you start and build your pipeline. There is time to do some training, hence I got a certificate for business and life coaching last week, but really I need to balance all those things “I would like to do” with “business essential things I want to do”. I am very positive about it. Before Christmas, there will be little work, and just enough to justify some business expenses. From January it looks more promising, and I am hoping to sign a contract before the end of next week.

What does that mean? It means I am now committed to work for myself in Q1. A big step. I am still keeping my ears to the ground, keeping that safety net with me. And, if there will be a big job, a great challenge, I could be tempted to go back into the security of a regular income. There are reasons for it, a master plan. I cross that bridge when I come to it, and running my own business also means I will be pickier in what I do. It comes as a gradual process going from doing a 6 months project at an agency to a 10 months project at an adtech provider to new projects next year. I just didn’t call them all consulting but essentially that is what it was. An article on that is still to come. I enjoy writing articles and hope you all read the one on DMP and CDP predictions for 2018?

There are some huge things I am learning at the moment and I am confident you can gain from that too.

– I see my kids almost every day and spend a lot more time with them. Hence I can have a lot more influence on their behaviour and teach them things about the growth mindset, personal development and watch them growing up. I am feeling blessed being able to do that. Also, I understand that will change again whether I do consulting work or a full time job. Either way I will be working more in London or abroad.

– I went through the exercise of a thorough understanding of my finances. Starting at ‘how much do we need’ and ‘how much are we willing to spend’ to ‘what’s the bare minimum’, questioning some of the things we have spend money on. I should add ‘I have spent money on’. Hence I deleted my Amazon app, as it makes it too easy to just spend a few quid here and there.

– Despite being in charge of my own time, I am not having more time. I fill the days with learning, chasing, working on databases, pitching new business and exploring everything I need to know about coaching. It is a fascinating stage and I have met some great people since starting this only 2 weeks ago.

– It puts your whole life in perspective. Thinking about the fear you have, the confidence you need, the admin you have to go through and what you are missing out on vs. what is important in your life. How do you define happiness, and how are you managing balancing fear and happiness?

Whatever comes out of the next 3+ months will be a huge amount of experience. No one prepares you for that, yet it is a mental exercise like no other. That’s it. If I end up with an employer in Q2/2018 then I have learned to much, that I add even more value than I would at the moment. If I continue as I am, then I hope I end up in two year’s time where I want to be. And from there, the sky is the limit.

You know, trusting yourself is a huge step. I always have done, and I am so grateful for the support from my family. It bolsters my confidence!

That’s my week really. How was yours?

Volker

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