Posts Tagged Family

Sunday Column (438)

Sunday night’s routine is tiring. I try to spend as much time with the boys, then I do what I have done for the last few weeks. I fold two shirts. I pack my gym gear, I pack my stuff for a few days away. The youngest often tries to help me, the eldest usually sits in the bath. As I pack my stuff, I realised that I most probably won’t be home for my son’s birthday. I plan to not travel for two weeks in a row, yet then I have to travel over his birthday. I better warn him early and suggested we can celebrate for three days before. Happy days, he is good with that. Balancing life is not easy sometimes, and tiring when you are worn out. Having had a virus, it seems as if I am running on 80% on a good day.

Whilst siting at the airport I managed a good catch up with a dear friend of mine. We discussed work life balance and challenges for having a high pressure job and a family. Coincidently I listened to a podcast re work life balance and blocking time (The1thing.com again) and wonder if work life balance is only becoming a practise now, after we had years of talking about it. Often good ideas take a while until we put them into daily practise. This is fascinating to watch and luckily not a big challenge for me, given the understanding and support of my company.

There was a minor incident on my flight, no nothing serious. My seat neighbour decided that he had to have more arm rest space than me and really started to get irritated when I pushed back and he pushed back himself. Wow, given he was middle seat and I was in the aisle one and we could have shared….I never experienced so much negative energy about something like that before. I backed down, breathed in and out, and moved on. I haven’t experience the sense of righteousness over something so small for a long time, and got really irritated. Seriously, an armrest space, that bl* important. No way.

Irritation is present for me, and I still find it difficult to deal with imperfection. This is because my high standards are often portrayed to others, and my expectations on myself are high. So when finding trainers, I spend another 2 hours trying trainers on Saturday, I want to have some that I know will eradicate my pain. But I cannot do that until I start running 10Ks in them. So I gave the one I chose a few weeks ago back and got two new pairs, hoping that one of them certainly works out. Given they didn’t have my size, I had to order them and hence didn’t have trainers for my trip to Germany. We are so spoiled to have things now and immediately, that waiting and being patient is not something we are good at anymore, or ever were.

It took me a few years to learn that actually. To understand that things are out of your control and that the person serving me dinner on Saturday night is not as sophisticated as I would have hoped for. But on the other hand, my confidence is growing to ask for things and offer compromises when food isn’t up to scratch or products I buy aren’t that great. Life is a learning process, and I hope I could just take half my life’s learning and pass it on to the kids. But that ain’t working, I guess my parents have tried and I didn’t want to hear any of it. Speaking to a good friend later in the week, the same pattern emerged. It was about work, about dreams, and how our experience benefits companies massively. Why wouldn’t it. And as someone said today, as you climb up the career ladder, or ladder of life, make sure it is leaning against the right wall. Moving forward is only progress if it is in the right direction.

Interesting, on a completely different note, I started drinking less coffee. I am not sure if I spoke about it, but I there are two subtle changes I have been making. One is to only drink a double espresso a day. No more caffeine after. A long coffee at the weekend, but I tend to change that too, I think. I find that I am less adjutated and less irritated. See above 🙂 Given I drank 5 or more cups of coffee/espresso a day, I am surprised how little I miss the caffeine intake. Then I try to eat healthier again, which I think is working most days. When I say it is more difficult whilst travelling, it is a sad excuse. You can always eat healthier, despite being on the road. Yet the stress and the temptation of junk food around you …. I took on more of the weekend cooking or reducing the take away in-take (sorry!). BBQs with veggies and lean meat and salad, smaller pizzas and some more salad / veggies at work. I still don’t loose the weight I put back on yet, but I am not gaining more. That’s a progress right? A bit more discipline, maybe less snacks, chocolate and beer, should do the trick. Again, it is a eating balance, finding the right balance in a life that is trying to determine how you feel and what you should do. That’s the key.

However, I started Monday with a bang – we did a big restructure in the German office, and this week was all about change. It is great to be in the midst of turning around a company and helping to facilitate change and perception. Life is good and I hope it is seen as a good change, if not now, then certainly in the months to come. Believe! It comes back to experience (see above), trust (see above) and stamina. I am planning my next trips. Things are moving in the right direction, and I got buy in from my eldest. Could things be better?

Honestly? They always could be. But then, if you take a moment to breathe, to stop and smell the roses, you will realise that we are in the midst of war of life. We are in the trenches for survival, and we are doing pretty well. There is no reason to complain, and things work out in the end. Life is happening now, not tomorrow or yesterday. Seizing the moment to catch up with my brother on Monday night in Hamburg was great. Being spontaneous. Living the life and pushing yourself, yet stretching your legs at the weekend and letting go. If you ever stop and think about it, life is amazing and every moment matters. Every little thing is giving you so much back, why not enjoy that ride. That’s what it is all about.

Have an amazing week.
Volker

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Sunday Column (437)

Another crazy week. I am getting used to it and honestly, actually I am enjoying them a bit too, those weeks. I flew out to Hamburg on Monday, this time with Easyjet again, and it went ok. The seats, non emergency exit, are awful, but other than that it did the job and got me there on time. Just too small for my long legs, so no proper sleep. Back in an empty Eurowings with a glass of wine, needed after a back to back day. I try to maximise the time I have in Germany. And every time I believe things are all dealt with, something new comes up. Amazing.

Some of you might read this and go ‘Why is he doing it, why is he loving it?’. Let me tell you the story of my life, which you might have heard on here before. I enjoy being busy, sorting things, helping people, supporting and developing people and work. Yes, some people call it work, I call it fun. I don’t mind burning the candle on both ends and push things forward. 10 years ago I would have worked 24/7, and sometimes it felt like that. Why? I don’t know. Just what I enjoy doing. What do I really want to do, someone might ask. I enjoy running, and taking companies/company units forward, working with smart people, being successful. That’s it, simple. Learning.

There is a flip side to that too. Since I had kids, priority shifted. So I am not burning candles on both ends anymore and look for a more balanced life. Running, enjoying a glass of wine, good food, a BBQ at the weekend, quality time with the boys, the wife and friends. I enjoy my fun life too and I do enjoy things outside work. Listening to the OneThing podcast, there was a chap on there the other day, re-iterating that the first thing he does every year is to plan his holidays, then the kids’ school events and he never works beyond 6 pm. And he is mega successful. Similar to the Energy Project, it is about renewal, boundaries, regular breaks and refuelling and regenerating. I learned that over the years, moving from start up to start up, and apply it now. Not every day but most days. This is mega important and should have been more of a focus when I was younger. So when I can, I still work a lot, and if I have a higher priority, then so be it. As a matter of fact I was reading my emails this morning when my youngest woke up. He looked at me and I said, that I should really put the phone away, and he nodded. I did. No question. We must set examples, and make sure they balance life from the outset.

So with all the travelling, cudos goes to my team in the UK for being so patient with me and going through video conference sessions to catch up and the team in DE for the support and commmittment. We are a great team, great company and everyone is working so hard to make things work. Our earnings report this week shows we are so on track to win. I am loving it. Well done all (if you read that anyway 😉 ).

I am buzzing. The biggest cudos of course goes to someone else. My wife and children for putting up with my absence and supporting me throughout. Whether through endless WhatsApp emojis in the morning or funny videos. I love them all and really appreciate their patience. Particularly if I am not feeling too great at the weekend due to some virus. But that seems over now too. So this weekend was family time. Full on.

As I am flying back and try to catch up on some admin, I am wondering about a few things that have happened this week. The days melt into one, from early morning runs, early mornings in the office, discussions with old friends over beers, or endless meeting marathons. It is a lot to take in and as my brain digests this over a glass of vino, I am remembering the often quoted phrase of connecting the dots moving forward. Steve Jobs.

Yes, it all works out in the end. And everyone understands and works in the same direction. Life is for living and moving and looking forward. However YOU want to define that. I am reading an amazing book about evolutionary coaching. I listen to my podcast and I am learning constantly. I am buzzing with new ideas. Life is there to grab it and be successful. Again, you decide and you define what it means to you. Not to look back, regret. But what I also notice is that it is a lot about living and representing values. About agreeing or disagreeing on the path. And that’s the secret. In a relationship with a partner or in a relationship at work. Trust comes to mind. Openness. That’s what life is build on. Maybe not a secret. It all comes together as you get older.

I am happy. That’s the main thing. But more important is that my loved ones are and the ones in my care. That’s what I do. That is who I am. That is how I strive and determine success.

With that said, I am off to Hamburg again on Monday. Different meetings, different discussions, and I am looking forward to it. I make things work. That’s what I do.

Thank you all for bearing with me,
Volker

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Sunday Column (434)

Easter is over. We spend a lovely week in Germany where we met with lots of family and friends. We chilled, I really came down and relaxed. It was amazing. I was hoping to catch up on emails on the night before I went back to work but just was too involved in the family and too tired. That’s a good sign I think as I really detached from work. Result. And the boys were tired that night. A pizza, some wine and an early night for us, just after the boys hit the hay 😉 Travelling is exhaustive. I also picked up a bit of a tan, so I was told anyway.

Germany, my fatherland, but only one of two nationalities I hold. My relationship has changed a bit. It is a country in which I speak English with my family, feel less connected to and less understood. A nice and beautiful country where the standards of living seem higher than in other countries. But if you pull back the curtain, things are the same everywhere. Where is my home country now? Where do I feel home? I have had numerous discussions, and home is where your heart is. My heart, without a shadow of a doubt, is with my family. My boys. That’s where home is. Will it change again in the future? We shall see.

The future is more unknown than ever. A new general election was called. It won’t reverse Brexit but gives us a chance to change governments. I personally believe it will strengthen Theresa May’s position, catapult Corbyn out of the Labour lead. Then we reshuffle, have Brexit and a new election in 2022 or so. We shall see. We will master whatever is ahead of us. Politics. Oh, maybe Corbyn is underestimated and will make it. Wouldn’t that be fascinating?!

A note on driving in Germany or generally about driving. The speed, 120 miles/200 km per hour is fast. Yet it seems to work without too many accidents. People fill safety gaps I am leaving to the car in front of me, making it dangerous to drive. Yet still we survived but somewhat it doesn’t make sense. Maybe a good thing. But I enjoyed the freedom of driving as fast as I could. As of May the European governments will share a database of all drivers to prosecute beyond boundaries – something that hasn’t been done yet. Having said that, I think I would have had a few tickets. Fingers crossed I won’t 🙂

I also brought back some nice wine from Germany. Tax on alcohol is a lot lower, making it feasible to buy Australian wine or French wine at half the price compared to the UK. Also, just going shopping, taking me back to my childhood with a filled wallet, being able to buy all those sweets and crisps I enjoyed as a kid. Senses, particularly smell and taste, take me back to my childhood. Some things will never change. Just tasting the cherry lollipop I bought for the boys took me back to the doctor’s surgery where I got one after every visit. Strange, no?

In other news, there is a new Star Wars trailer which got my kids all excited. And me. They seem to be a lot more involved than me and understand more details of the movie and the personal relations of the characters than I do. Maybe I don’t concentrate hard enough? Or I am distracted, fall asleep or am less engaged. Great to see them identifying themselves with these stories which I think are brilliant material for thoughts on the future.

But I don’t want to get too sentimental. Life is great at the moment. It is changing, constantly, and busy and challenging. Just the way we want it.

Love and Kindness from my corner of the world.

Volker

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Sunday Column (433)

Happy Easter. I love Easter, mainly because I can spend a lot of time with the family. Good food, great chats and quality time with the kids. Particularly if you have the weather and can spend some time outside. It is nice and meeting great friends, chatting about what was and what there will be. Easter, for me, is about reflecting on the winter, the dark months, then to move forward towards the summer. It is also very close to my birthday, so making it a reflective time for me.

I started Easter with a run – a 10 mile run turned into a 23K run – as always I got lost. A lot of uphill and downhill. With the wife – and it was fantastic. I was knackered though. Being out in the woods, spring in the air, some drizzle, some views. Amazing.

This week I have been debating what and how much to write. It will be a shorter post I thought, just because I am really chilling out, relaxing and staying offline more than anticipated. This is a good thing. A friend of mine recently suggested that the trend goes towards digital cameras, MP3 players and any other ‘not connected’ devices. Away from an all in one, phone, connected device. I am not sure about that yet. However, maybe it is a trend and ‘humans’ will try to disconnect again. Hmm. Time will tell.

On productivity, a few weeks ago I started using Inbox for Gmail (by Google) which essentially let’s you snooze your emails to a time/date which is convenient for you. By doing so it removes the emails from your inbox. This way you easily get to inbox zero and also read emails when they are relevant (e.g. important ones in the morning, newsletters on a Friday afternoon). It gives you an immense satisfaction to clear your inbox by the end of the day, before a holiday or sometimes during the day. Latter is less often the case and it helps you to chase and remind people of actions.

Having more control over emails and being able to use inbox as a todo list, something I never recommended to do with a ‘standard inbox’, is a good way to keep your todo list small. On the other hand, the amount of articles lately that suggest to schedule time in your calendar for actions to get them done rather than using lists, is getting more. I will share them via the Thursday Flash, but only partly agree. Blocking time to get through your todo list and work on time relevant things is important and good practise. However, to schedule every task down to the hour only makes sense if your work is very task based and then you work through one after another anyway – hence could use a list. But as outlined in my book (link on the right hand side), the important thing is that you find a system that works for you and that you are consequent in using and applying it.

I enjoy my Easter break. The last 3 and a bit months have been very intense. In a good way though. Time to reflect, recharge and fly to the moon when I am back! The sky is the limit, really! Powered by Rocket Fuel 🙂 Sorry I couldn’t resist. LOL

Whilst I would say that, over Easter I had to explain a few people what we do and how we do it. Our industry is still so young and so far away from the big boys. No surprise there are the big boys like Oracle, Times, Adobe that get into the game. Fun. And surely more mergers and acquisitions ahead. What will life look like Easter 2018?

Anyway, I am disconnected too – a bit anyway. Not fully of course, that wouldn’t be me.

Have a great Easter weekend.

Best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (432)

The joys of travel makes it almost enjoyable to sit on an old Southern train on a Friday, bumping in the seat, as I go into the office. The usual routine is back and I had a chance to see both the wife and the kids before I headed out of the house. The life I chose to be living. As I finalise this piece, my kids are sitting in their PJs entertaining themselves, the wife is making lovely bacon butties and I have a strong cup of Joe. Saturday, sunny, and maybe a BBQ on the cards. Life can be pretty awesome.

Friday, and that is not what I anticipated, a terror attack in Stockholm. As I said on Twitter, I was in Stockholm when it happened in London and I was in London when it happened in Stockholm. My friends are safe in Stockholm. I am shocked. I said it then and I say it now, we will see more of those attacks. Terror. Not a lot of casualties but fear. Cheap, little preparation. Stay safe everyone. Then there was Syria. Wow. I don’t know what to say but I am more scared of stupid people than of smart people. And you know what I mean by that.

Anticipating how the week would develop, see comment above ‘or not’, I started my ‘new routine’ this week of flying into Germany for a few days with a lazy Monday night. That was very much needed, and deliberately planned. So I started the week with a long sauna session followed by eating healthy salad, watching ‘The motorcycle diary’, a story about Che Guevaras. The right thing to do. Balancing your life.

I cannot say I know much about him, but he travelled and experienced a lot new input biking across South America. I have not travelled much to new and exotic places (yet) however lived in different cultures since I have been 16. That’s a different experience. A different input. So watching the movie and for Che Guevaras to realise that he is no longer the one he was, stroke a cord with me. I am no longer the me I was when I lived in Germany 16 years ago. Or in the USA 20 years ago. Life moved on and experience took over, and one got busy having a family and all. But we are still we, aren’t we?

Those experiences determine how we react. For our German team we did a personality test (red=driven, blue=organised, yellow=creative, green=team person) which determines your main character. Similar to Meyers Briggs this test just looks at your favourite personality treat but uses colour to determine your preference (see above as a rough guide). I am, of course, red. Driven, determined and GSD (getting sh* done). I strive on productivity and love getting lots done doing two jobs at the time. I try to not let anything slip through the net, but cannot promise to go into every little detail as necessary. That is a challenge for me but as they say, it is interim. This interim position got a lot of traction in the German press which I sincerely enjoy. See my Linkedin profile for details.

So whatever made you the person you are, determined your connections between your left and right brain, and whichever experience helped you to be who you are and achieve what you got, you will always go back to your childhood values. Can you tell I have been in Germany, getting back to making those long winded sentences (Schachtelsatz) 🙂 Values often don’t change but come out in different ways. The basic you, the one that doesn’t change, is still there, even after all those years and experience. And this is what I find fascinating, to still get adjutated (sometimes) with the same things by getting a trigger in Germany. Pushing the button on small things that I had long forgotten. That includes words, actions and attitudes. An amazing muscle/brain memory function of going back and making those connections mentioned above.

As I start writing this post I am about to take off from Hamburg. A lovely city. A nice city. It is funny how every airline seems to take off slightly different, like a different driver of a taxi, getting used to Eurowings. Moving forward I will go back to Easyjet at least for the outbound journey due to a) costs and b) convenience. Also, in all honesty I enjoy the extra challenge of having two jobs on one company, however difficult it is to manage sometimes. It is fun and satisfying. I strive on a challgene and love the company I work for. I do. And the more challenging it gets, the better the job right?

So I managed to wrap up the week from London and focus my energy on my two little boys over the weekend. Actually I don’t think they are that little anymore. It is great to see them again and make sure they know I am still there and love(d). I cannot wait to spend more time with them over Easter. I managed to bring back some new Pokemon and some Pokeballs. And some Gummibears of course and NicNacs which are still not available in the UK. Allegedly, so I heard years ago, there is some licensing issues around it. You’d never knew.

With those thoughts about the constant evaluation of life and work, character and personal destination, I want to close for the week. I can see an increase in downloads for my book which is nice and encouraging and hope it helps people to organise their life’s systems. Link on the right hand side.

Have an amazing week ahead of you.

Love and kindness,
Volker

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Sunday Column (428)

Another week. More travel. It seems as if the weeks just blur into one and I spend two days a week in a different place. I don’t mind, being away for a night, taking the Easyjet ‘bus’ from Gatwick to Europe. A 430 wake up call followed by a quick exercise routine, a meditation session, a shower and a ride to the airport. Then an almost two hour delay due to air traffic control strikes in France – I was on my way to Madrid. Those delays are annoying. Having just endured almost 12 months of conductor strikes on Southern Rail, I have no sympathy with anyone striking whatsoever. I keep saying it over and over again, I am thankful for the opportunities given to me in my life and wouldn’t want to jeopardise them due to strike actions or anything stupid like that. So I have little understanding for someone who would go to their employer and say ‘if you don’t do this, then we strike’. There are enough people out there that would take jobs and make it happen. Something I am missing?

Yes, there is an argument that if we didn’t have the unions, companies would do whatever they wish. They wouldn’t I don’t think. Companies have a keen interest in making their employees happy. To work with them, to empower them, to make work a nice thing to do. Maybe I am wearing some pink glasses here or something, but companies who are ‘abusive’ to their employees will not succeed. I cannot see that happen. Maybe I am listening to too many American podcasts suggesting that we are all in it together. That we can determine our destiny and people around us want to help us. We must be under that anticipation that an employer doesn’t want you to fail and want to do the utmost to make you happy and successful. After all they are spending money on you and your career. Mine does, and I am grateful for it.

Working in different places is critical. I love seeing the local teams, connecting and understanding the local challenges. Each market is unique, each view is different. Listen to their needs. It widens my horizon and gives me a chance to review what we are doing in HQ and whether we can change things, adopt some local practises, to improve things overall and to help moving the company forward. I enjoy that and believe it adds a lot of value to the company. I have another two weeks of travel ahead of me. Speaking at a conference in Germany which is tricky and challenging as it is a new corporate deck with a translation into German. I will master it and actually I am excited about it. Just in case I fly out the night before 😉 Then Sweden. Then I shall have a couple of weeks in the office before a family break over Easter. No flying then. As much as it is nice to travel, it is not glamorous and it does tire you out. At least I keep up my exercise routine and healthy eating (most of the time). Yet this week I felt a bit drained. The weather is to blame I guess?!

Further to travel this week I read an article in the FT about citizenships and Brexit. You can read it in detail yet the main take away for me was that if you lived here for long enough – and that is uninterrupted – you can continue to live here post Brexit. Or it should be fairly easy to get a passport/citizenship. Or you leave. I am not judging whether that is fair or not, but what I am saying is that if you have lived here long enough there is nothing you should fear. So why did I get the citizenship? Because I wanted to ensure I can stay and be with my family, plus I feel more British these days than German anyway. I don’t have plans to leave this country other than with my family and then we all would be foreigners elsewhere, on the same passport. That’s really it. I wanted to do it years ago but didn’t want to spend the money on it. Now I could and did it. The necessity felt slightly bigger of course. Anyway, this should all be done by next week.

If you feel I write too much about work, then please let me know. I just realised I wrote all about Brexit, travel and work without writing about work or family. If that makes sense? I love management studies, and I love work. That’s what I do and I enjoy it. Even my taxi driver said that, if he won the lottery, he would continue working. So would I, there is no way I could sit on my bum long enough doing nothing. I’d go up the walls. So I used the flight delay to catch up on some work, prepare a presentation, write part of this blog and think about life. I also caught up on some sleep mid air and arrived refreshed. Kind of anyway 😃

The remainder of the week was nice. It is nice to see trains running on time most of the time. It makes a huge difference to both my mood and my state of happiness. Plus the Friday ‘pale ale express’ session with the neighbours. Then I took the wife out for a meal on Saturday. Nothing fancy, just a very nice Thai place, a good chat and some ‘us time’. There is never enough of that once you got children. We are getting better in carving date nights out of our schedule, more than we used to. Then again the kids are getting older. Life becomes easier from a logistical point of view. Attitude, tantrums and questions and demands are the same pain as before, just different. Growing up I suppose 😃 Yes, I wouldn’t want it any other way!

I hope all is well with you and yours.
From our little corner of the world, I wish you lots of love and happiness.
Have an amazing week ahead, and please share this blog if you like it.
Volker

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Sunday Column (427)

This week was different. In a good way I suppose, given it started out with a lovely Sunday meal with the family. We celebrated my wife’s birthday and her finishing yet another half marathon. Well done. I am very proud of her achievements. I originally wanted to eat a salad but ended up with some nice winter warming comforting Pizza – so much about losing weight again. My training is going well, yet before the 24 hour race I should really shed a few more kilos. I guess consistency with weight exercise is needed and more discipline on the food side of things. I am trying. Maybe not hard enough but pushing myself in regards to making sure to complete three 10K runs a week.

On Tuesday/Wednesday I attended an internal conference where eating and drinking healthy wasn’t an option really. I mean, knowing HR is reading my blog ;-), there is always an option, but less discipline I guess. One night to make friends with up to 180 people from our international territory. That’s a lot of people to meet, a lot of networking. A great event though and speaking as well as listening to our CEO was encouraging. I love what I am doing and believe this company is right. We are on a journey and it is a journey I enjoy. People I enjoy. Amazing technology. We are winning. And no, I am not only writing this since HR is listening in. I am writing this as I think there are similarities between my CEO, my MD and myself. This sounds weird, but besides the early morning routines (this sounds weird, doesn’t it), we also seem to understand and enjoy business. Different level of experience of course and backgrounds, and motivations, but overall I can spot a theme. That’s amazing.

I had probably one of the shortest commutes from the conference. It happened in Brighton. So when I got home Wednesday afternoon I caught up on some sleep and then on some work. The next day I was back at my 5 am routine. It killed me at the conference given I was in bed very late and naturally woke by 5, but on Thursday my 10K was refreshing. I started my physio exercises again and taking ibuprofen, so I am hopeful to get on top of my leg pain soon. I also had 9 hours sleep that night which helped immensely to get back to normal.

The remainder of the week was rather busy. A lot of things to organise, conferences to prepare, personal stuff to sort out. Two weeks out from my citizenship ceremony, which I found out is free of charge after all, the government agreed that the status of EU citizens would not change post Brexit. I feel at ease knowing that soon I don’t have to worry about it anymore. No one likes dealing with government processes I don’t think. So putting it all to an end to apply for a passport will be nice. A bit of closure. Britain is home for me. Here is where my family is and here is where I belong.

Trains seem to run fine at the moment. I don’t want to jinx it but since I started my job 6 weeks ago, I can take a direct train again to get to the office for 9 am. That is nice. An easier commute, reliable most days and a more convenient one. However, the train is older and doesn’t cope that well with the old tracks. So slightly more uncomfortable. I find myself typing this blog on Thursday morning. A sunny day, a windy day. The wind woke me up a few times at night. Winter is not quite gone yet, and according to the calendar spring wont’ t start until 21 March. Despite my wife thinking it is the 1st of March. I look forward to the summer, to more fun with the boys. outside, sitting on the patio. To enjoy nature and nature’s warmth. To connect with the roots. But let’s not get sentimental.

Life has been good to us. I am pleased and happy with what we have. My life as a whole. The challenges it comes with. The love from my boys and discussions we have. The challenges we work through as parents. The ‘treadmill weekends’ of going to parties and entertaining the family. I enjoy to be able to help, to make a difference to things. I am content yet hungry for more. I am eager to step up and take on more. And hopefully I will eventually. With patience, consistency and integrity, I am confident to take things further. Life is great.

Have an amazing week ahead.
Best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (423)

Loads happening this week. Late nights working, getting my feet under the table, early morning runs and getting stuff done. Yes, I had a fantastic week. Busy busy but also demanding and tiring. All good, all happening. I am enjoying myself!

My highlight, clearly 🙂 , was an unexpected meeting with my old ‘boss’. I haven’t seen him for 10+ months, he was in town, and we discussed life, work and what it is worth living for. It wasn’t all sentimental, but it was. A great mentor and friend, it was so good to see him again. I know you are reading that, and hope to meet up again soon. Good to see you!

My lowlight on the other hand was the whole story around Trump. I guess that was everybody’s lowlight, no? Segmenting people because of religious belief, origin or maybe even colour of skin? I thought human kind, being German in particular, passed that stage. I don’t want a 4th Reich, another Fuehrer that ends up causing a world war. Peter Maffay, a German (refugee from Romania btw), sang in his song “It’s time” about signals show red, the piper leads you to death, it’s time to realise and look around you, all signs point towards war. I don’t want a 4th Reich, no destruction and war. I freely translated this and think it is so valid, given it was written a while back. Why….why would anyone do what Trump set out to do? I see danger ahead. I feel fear. Yet I also feel encouraged that the supreme court in the US is stepping in and ruling above the president. That’s how democracy should work, similar to the UK re Brexit. Even if the outcome doesn’t change in this instance, we have tried to make sure we are holding up our values of democracy. Yet what the US government is trying just seems to utterly wrong.

On another note, the train services are back to normal and more reliable. One day of delays but particularly evening services are going ok. It is nice to relax a bit more about getting home. Particularly when the weather is wet, cold and you just come from the pub 😉 On the note of weather, my cold didn’t allow me to train as hard as I wanted to this week. I cannot wait for the weather to warm up a bit and me hitting the gym harder again. And I got outdoor, muddy weather, running shoes. I cannot wait to try those bad boys out either. It’s going to be a fun year in terms of exercise I think. Not sure what I plan besides the 24 hour race… but time will tell.

My biggest compliment this week: I am happy, said the wife. She has done well to get a job, so things are falling into place. We renewed our mortgage for the next 5 year on a good rate and we are sorting some other bits out. Winning I think. At least from our perspective. We are happy as a family, and love where we are living. I managed to spend some time with the kids this week, yet R was ill and it was a bit difficult around that. But we managed in the interest of all of us. I couldn’t be more on top of the world at the moment.

I also listened to Kara Swisher being interviewed by Tim Ferris. She mentioned that one of her regrets, if I didn’t misheard, was that she wasn’t as passionate about her kids/family as she was with her job. I am not sure if I am similar. I love my kids to bits, so does Kara, yet we sometimes put work first, and this isn’t right. And it is difficult to understand or for anyone to accept unless you feel similar. I know a few people like that, and it doesn’t mean they do not love their kids, it is more about being so driven in a job, that it seems to overtake everything else sometimes. It is as if you were as passionate about your kids and could spend 50 hours a week with them, it would be awesome too. But we seem to enjoy the work we are doing, and it ultimately benefits the family and kids too. I will be working on that, improve on it, being more mindful. It isn’t a bad thing, it is a thought of priority and passion. And passion is there, priority is difficult sometimes. I am on it.

And on that not, there is nothing like getting this 2 minute hug from your youngest in the morning before going to work. To chat with your 7 year old about how he solved the Rubix cube. To see them succeed and better what we never achieved. You want them to win, be part of what they do. That ignites my passion. I often think of them during the day, what they would be up to in school and what would they be playing just now. And I trust them being young intelligent human beings, making their own decisions. They are growing up far too quickly.

I cannot wait to take them to my new office. To show them around the free snacks area 🙂 To let them draw on the whiteboard wall (paint) in the board room and look at all the goodies we have. They will just love it. Half term is near! I want them to be involved in what I do as I am getting more involved in what they do.

Life is good. I am happy and content and feel like things have just began.

From my little corner of the world,
Volker

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Sunday Column (417)

Please accept my apologies for the late publication of this blog – the scheduling let me down 🙁

Merry Christmas.

We have been, and are celebrating, with our families today. So I have already written the post and by the time you read it, I hope you are sitting down, chillaxing after a fat turkey dinner, glass of sherry or wine, maybe a cheese board, and you are creating an experience and memories with your families. That is what Christmas is about. Having a good time and spending some amazing time with your loved ones. For years to come you will look at your pictures from Christmas, remember the moments when the kids unwrap the presents, the sound of the fire and the taste of cheese and wine. There are so many experiences you’ll remember, the funny and sad stories. Moments that matter.

Christmas, end of year, is time to reflect. An amazing year it was. It started actually with an interview on the first day back after Christmas in 2016. This year was for me to create my life. To find out what I want to do and how I want to do it. Given the recent developments, I mapped out what I want to do what I shall focus on moving forward. And the reasoning for anything is around a few things that are very important for me: values. What I value. What I cherish in life and what is important to me. And my career is important to me. Lots of things to do, so much opportunity out there.

One value for me, without any question, is family. I want to have the flexibility to see my boys growing up and make the good night story more often than just at the weekends. Or the school pick up. At least once a week I’d like to be at home and be there for them, around them and help them grow up. I want to be their sounding board and advisor, friend and lecturer all at the same time. That is important for me. And, it is important for me to allow my wife to go back to work too. That will hopefully happen early 2017. So more change to come.

Another value is energy. I want to put energy into things and projects where I get energy back. I enjoy working with people that work hard and put a lot of energy into things to make them work. Honesty. Trust. Not being able to funnel your energy into the right direction or not being able to funnel energy whatsoever, just doesn’t work for me. So a part of 2016 is learning about my energy household, about meditation techniques and on that note I concluded more than 365 days of daily meditation. It helped me a lot!

This year saw my oldest joining middle school. The youngest going into year one. Those are big steps. I don’t believe how quickly or too quickly they grow up. Whichever cliché you think it is, we don’t have enough time to see our kids grow up. See earlier point. My wife re-trained and is ready to go back to work. Life is moving on slowly but surely. You would have noticed me mentioning the driveway a lot, yet it is a completion of the house for now. All work has been done, the next few bits and pieces are repairs and cosmetics, some plastering, some decorating etc. After 4.5 years we are finally done with the house and the outside in a way we wanted to have it. A great, satisfying feeling. I can sit in my chair, have a glass of wine and happily say we are done with the house. A very satisfying feeling. We have good health. My wife even ran a marathon. We are surrounded by family. What else can we ask for?

We saw Trump’s election this year. We saw Brexit. Latter resulted in me sending off for the naturalisation this week, to become a British citizen. I love this country, love living here, so might as well have a British passport in order to be 100% sure I can stay. Most probably I can anyway, but after 15 years it was about time to get this sorted. The likelihood of me moving back to Germany is very slim. And Trump – I follow politics and I am a bit concerned, yet we have to evaluate as we go along. As anything in life, there is a German saying, nothing is eaten as hot as it is cooked – let the news die down, see them taking office and see how much they actually do of what they threaten to do. Yet, given the German history, I am cautious to not ignore early warning signs. Fingers crossed.

At the same time we see terrorism in Germany and I am glad I don’t know of anyone being affected. I lived through 7/7 in London in 2005 and that is over 10 years ago now. We almost expect terrorism daily and luckily not much is happening. Let’s hope that we will see less of it rather than more. Paris, Madrid, London, Berlin….why can’t we all live in peace. Aleppo. I feel better by donating £50 to Unicef for some winter blanket, shoes and cloth for a child. But I am still very detached from what is actually going on. I wouldn’t say bubble wrapped but distanced. Fortunately or unfortunately. Trying to explain to your kids that having a turkey for Christmas, presents and the fire on, sitting in the warm and enjoying ourselves is something that they shouldn’t take for granted. I am trying. We should value every little thing in life and cherish those moments we create. Share the love whilst it lasts. Enjoy the good moments, and cherish them.

We also had a few nice holidays. Nothing fancy but great memories for the children. Memories and experience that matter. York in autumn. Centreparks. A few days at at the beach, Scotland with the MIL. The kids do not care if it is Cacun or Littlehampton, and when they are older I hope to show them more of the world. At the moment we are struggling to communicate some basic principles of what the European Union is or that the world is round. And just because Power Rangers are in New York, doesn’t mean going there we will see them 🙂 The world isn’t that simple, or maybe it is and we lost touch with the simplicity of it by making it more complicated than it should be. Anyway.

What I wish for in 2017 is simple: more time with the family, more happiness and health – latter is key to anything we do. Nothing is more important than health. So I continue to run my 20K a week, doing some weight training and maybe take up swimming again. We encourage the boys to take on different sports. Food is key too. What you put in, results in energy and output. Bad food will result in diseases. Very simple, so making sure to choose the right ingredients, cooking and eating healthy is in stock for 2017.

And maybe this is the same tune I had on last year. Sunday Column 364 and 365 talk more about sick bugs which we seemed to have avoided this year, at least the nasty stomach ones, so far. I also talk about my exercise routine which I kept up throughout the year, and still even then the work life balance wasn’t 100%. Guess it never is. And I do talk about the driveway LOL.

With that closing, thanks for being a regular reader of my blog and thanks for your support and help throughout the year.

Have a Happy Christmas, great start into the New Year and I hope that you are as excited as myself to embark a new journey in 2017. A year where I like to look back to and say it shaped my future. Yet every year does 🙂

All the best and stay safe and well,
Volker

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Sunday Column (416)

A week of train strikes. Early mornings, late nights, different trains, packed trains, impact on work and family life. Wow, I survived. It was utterly ridiculous. But then the ease set in from Thursday. What a lot of people didn’t know was that I had a few discussions with management over the last few weeks and we decided to finish off on a high after I finished a project earlier this week. So this concludes my first consulting project on programmatic and I hope I added value to the company (positive references are available upon request). I took the first step into freelance/consulting. So I now got a few weeks off.

What’s next? I will announce further consulting and advisory roles in the New Year. Having said that, one has been announced already, another software start up working with real time data. Exciting times (See Linkedin). Whilst I don’t want to rule out a f/t position, my remit and interests are very wide. Focus is key, yet also my life and values. I have had discussions with my mentors for a good while, and the key to any success is that the values of your job match the values of the company. Additional to that it needs to match your life style. What I mean by that is for me, with Southern Strike for instance, I can work from home. This isn’t always possible of course. Or I can work around my wife’s shifts. Or do some school runs. When I told the boys I would be home a lot over the next few weeks, they hugged me for 2 minutes. Needless to say I was humbled. I haven’t seen much of my family for the past few months. See reference in earlier posts. So life will be good!

The best conversation I had this week was with a fellow MBA who put some management theory into practise: a proper matrix organisation that works independently by vertical team and owns the product line. Empowered, in charge and happy at work with retention rates beyond industry standards. Very impressive. I haven’t come across too many organisations like that, but it brings out the best in people. Trust is key in any employer/employee relationship. The only other organisation I have seen previously working in a similar fashion was an agency which had given 70% of its shares to employees. That means they were directly impacted by the growth and revenue and owned part of the company. It works. Not many organisations are willing to set it up like that.

This is a keen interest of mine. Company culture and staff empowerment. Maybe a topic for the next book? Not sure. I now have 2 weeks to finalise my productivity book, identify publishers etc. Things seem to happen for a reason and life is too short to worry and not get on with it, to give up even. You know sometimes you have to go to the edge of the cliff. To see what it is like. Not to end your life but to take stock. To think. How often have you taken time out in the last 6 months to just sit and think? To reflect and see the world go by? I haven’t but I look forward to do that a lot more. I emailed my coach a few weeks ago, unfortunately he has been busy assisting Tony Robbins, and the reply I got, ever so short, already gave me kick up the bum. You know what I mean? Life is happening!!!

The best way to describe my cliff is I am on a plane ready to jump. I am at the edge, taking stock, have taken stock, and I am now ready to jump. But not without a parachute of course and a plan for when to open it. To take the leap, to make it happen, to be, to create MY life. You must create your life and be in control of your destiny. Anything else does not matter. Things will always fall (no punt intended) into place. One cannot make people feel a certain way or shoe-horn them into a situation. It is not going to work.

I am overwhelmed by support. People that I didn’t expect to say that, to be very supportive for me to take the leap. People offering me parachutes as I jump out of the plane. I have a small one but they offer me bigger ones. Some offer me safety nets and cushions. It is amazing. I am ever so grateful and thankful for that. Life is good and good to see that people are helpful. I am loving life. Seriously, could it get any better.

There will be more announcements to come after Christmas. For now it is wind down. I can go back to 10K runs in the morning, swimming, saunas and school pick ups and good night stories. Maybe some Lego and Power Ranger play too.

You have a nice last week before Christmas.

With all my love,
Volker

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