Posts Tagged Family

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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Sunday Column (410)

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What a week. A great week actually. Being in pitch season we worked a lot. Nothing extreme yet it was close to 60 hours. I am loving it though. Because it is fun, a great team, and a great goal. And for those who know me, if I say we worked a lot, we really did. Long hours. Early hours. Collaborative. Successful. Amazing team. One team, one dream – that’s what they say! I do enjoy my job and I mean it. Whilst I am self conscious that people in my company read my blurb, I am also conscious that this means there is an interest in my person. That is nice to know. I am no celebrity, but in my little world of online and digital marketing, people seem to know of me at least 😉 That’s not a bad thing.

Anyhow, I am due to present 5 facts about myself later on this month for the company. I am excited about it. Not that anything isn’t known about me, there will be (hopefully), some new things coming up that people didn’t know about me. I might just put them on here then too. We shall see. Every time you join a new group/job people need to get to know you. It is a chance for you to redefine yourself, and reposition yourself, but also things that other people that know you take for granted, will have to be re-established, e.g. working hard, being reliable, not being good at visuals.

Actually this week was the first week back from holidays too. An amazing week off that finished with the annual fireworks. We took the kids and they loved it. And the bonfire afterwards too. And I enjoyed it too. We as a family had a great time, and given the age of the kids now, we can do those things, go to bed a bit later and do things we could never do before. That is so nice. But of course life is changing. The wife goes back to work, so on Sunday I couldn’t take the youngest to his best friend’s party because she needed the car. Luckily we got a lift in the end. Yet another excuse to get myself the midlife crisis Jaguar. I am saving up for it!

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Not seeing the kids during the week isn’t nice, but when you see them it is more intense, which is nice again. Not sure that makes sense. Yet when I was working on a document at 6 am on Thursday and the oldest woke up and sat next to me, wanting to download his week, I couldn’t. He isn’t self conscious enough yet to mind, and enjoyed watching some TV (whilst I had my noise cancellation head phones on), but it isn’t nice. Yet, when you think you get a little bit of a rest and the youngest wakes you at 3.30 am on Friday, and you cannot go back to sleep, that’s not great either. So Friday was a bit of a struggle to stay awake and focused. You just cannot win, and I am not complaining. Having seen one of my supplier earlier in the week, he looked shattered. New borns, yes I remember them, however it is getting better. So a 4 hour night is fine once in a while. Just always happens on the wrong day 🙁

Brexit is another topic this week. Look at what is happening. The government now needs approval from parliament to trigger article 50. Wow. That’s going to be interesting. Does that mean we might not have a Brexit. It looks like the whole country now understands which consequences a Brexit might have. Are we back paddling? Hopefully we are. I have an appointment with the German embassy this coming week to get an ID card. This way I can start the process of sending off for a naturalisation to become British hopefully early next year. A lengthy process but I should be alright. I am married to a Scot. But, and I think I mentioned it before, if Scotland joins the EU and splits from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, what is going to happen? Maybe my wife has to rely on me to become an English citizen? What a mess! For the time being I am glad Brexit isn’t Brexit yet. Maybe it never comes to it, yet I am sure Britain will negotiate different terms with Europe regardless. Whatever happens, I hope I can stay and don’t have to worry.

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There wasn’t much else going on this week to be honest. Work, a bit of play, some sleep and my exercise routine. I really try to not miss my runs. Another train strike on Friday, some early days in the office. Getting shit done. I am buzzing of the thought of work. I know it’s sad, but that’s how I roll. Yet the weekend was all about the boys. To unwind, to spend time with them and make sure to make up time. Birthday parties, playing in the forest. Then again you can never make up time. But you can be more in the moment and be more with them. And they are giving back. They are enjoying to have me around for different input to their mum. We can do boys stuff 🙂 So to my earlier point, once I get a (car) toy, maybe they help me maintain a semi classic car? We shall see.

Next week is another busy one. There are a few people I would like to catch up with. I had to postpone a few meetings and lunches and catch ups due to train strikes, work and other matters. Back to a more regulated, more normal life. Nope, won’t happen, illusion. Yet that’s the game I am in now and I love being centre field. That’s where I excel.

Onwards.
Upwards.

Have a good one,
Volker

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Sunday Column (405)

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I feel tired. Maybe the weather change, maybe the wine, maybe just being on the edge of winter? The fire is on, I am finalising my blog on Sunday morning. Not that it is that cold, but why not. However, I also feel full of energy. I am bursting to put more hours and effort in to get things done. Make this my world, my day, my minute. Make time work. Make this my life. Somewhat, over the last few months, I feel more in charge of what is happening than I have ever done before. This is a new but amazing feeling. As my American friends would say, I am pumped!

Beer. Football. Fun on a Saturday afternoon. Fish and chips, take away pizza and a curry. Am I turning into a Brit? No doubt I still have my German accent, yet I feel, after 15 years, things are coming together, and I am more settled than ever in this society. I love this country. Passport or not, am I turning my back on Germany? Slowly but surely I am I think. Whilst I still have my roots there, no travel is required to the fatherland at the moment, so I get little exposure to it. So maybe I am just properly settling down… nothing wrong with it, life is good, I am happy.

Brexit or not we keep investing. Hopefully into something money cannot buy, but health for my back and sanity: a new bed and memory foam mattress. A bit beyond what I wanted to spend, but I feel this is an investment worthwhile. Our first bed after uni was IKEA. The mattress lasted a few years, then it was gone. Then we had a futon mattress. 4 years, it is gone. Now a memory foam one with 8 years guarantee and 40 days return…we cannot go wrong with that one I don’t think.

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On the note of health and my wife completing her first marathon, I am getting obsessed with my Apple Watch as a fitness device. Whether to track my runs, or to see how often I stand during the day, how much I move or how well I sleep. The health app and my watch keep me right. A gentle reminder on my arm suggests to breathe, take a minute out and refocus. Nice. I need those reminders and find them useful. I remember too well that my colleagues at uni in halls of residence laughed at me, when I had my first palm pilot, and it reminded me of things. And they said, is that to remind you to breathe, Volker? I didn’t then. My device now does. I think it’s funny now. They probably don’t -) Particularly this week whilst I suffered from the evil man flu. Trying to not fall asleep in meetings and getting any sympathy of course doesn’t work, so a bit of focus on the inner self was useful.

And I am now competing with my friend Adam on performance on a daily basis. How many steps did he take? How long did he stand up? A nice competitiveness. I think my wife needs an Apple watch too. Christmas coming soon.

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Another thought this week. Whenever I start a new job I am getting consciously aware of new people reading my blog. Often I get asked, based on my bio, whether I am a Buddhist, and I guess I am. Why, I wonder, am I classifying myself as a Buddhist. And I guess the answer is relatively simple. As simple as most things in Buddhism. For me it is about the philosophy. The bit about being in control of your thoughts, to be able to help and to be a good citizen. But foremost it is the philosophy of calming your mind, being mindful and present in the moment. Focusing on the one thing that is important. It isn’t a religion for me, it is a certain commitment to be a good human being and focusing on improving my mindfulness. It is that simple really.

Being a good dad. A good father. A good husband. A good manager. I was told this week by an ex colleague of mine, that I am very good with people. A huge compliment. I love people. I love working with people, developing them. One of my biggest things. Hence I love my new job. I can so see how I can help and impact the workflow and people. I enjoy that. Yes, there are things I don’t like, but there always are some in any job. I only started and got a chance to meet the big boss this week. You know, and I would say that, meeting the founder is impressive enough, but meeting the guy who has the vision beyond your little world is impressive … Jim Rohn said to surround yourself with 5 people that help you develop. I am improving my 5. And hopefully I am to others what they are to me.

Jim Rohn. Anthony Robbins. Freedom Fast Lane. The Mentee. There are virtual mentors and instructors, coaches and helpers, yet having people in the real world that talk sense makes you feel good. Who are your 5? Who are the five people that influence you? I enjoy sitting in the middle of receiving but also giving. Helping and being helped. One grows, all together we improve and grow for a bigger purpose. I enjoy that, an environment I strive in.

Hopefully, so will my boys. I haven’t seen much of them this week but when I did, I feel like the bond is improving day by day. I want to be a good dad. A good friend and sparring partner. A coach. All their life. That is my purpose. And the only way I can achieve that is by gaining trust.

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You know, trust is key in any relationship. It takes ages to build, and once destroyed it is difficult to regain. I remember in one of my start ups they gave me the trust to be the sole account holder, I mean kind of. So, when I left, in theory they had to cut my card. They trusted me for so long, would you trust them? Yes you would. And still today you would. This is the key to any relationship. My wife, and we had a great night out on Saturday. Let’s work on that in our lives to improve the relationships we own. Let’s make time for each other, rech out and share trust and love.

I wish you well.
Have an amazing week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (403)

What a week! It ended with a walk today where I took this picture:

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Never know where your path is leading to. Yet you have to trust your intuition and faith. Take massive actions towards your goals. Be you. Succeed. You will be ok.

However, the week started with an amazing Adtech event. ATS, Exchangewire own Ad Trading Summit, which I have been attending since the summer of 2010. Ciaran put on an amazing line of speakers, insights and discussions around the real time bidding, programmatic advertising technology market. Well done! This was amazing. An industry get together. A catch up with publishers, suppliers, vendors, media owners and tech heads; geeks and friends. This year felt special, as I find that the industry is growing up, and maybe because there were a few acquisitions announced or talked about, a big tech IPO due soon, and all of those rumours bring the excitement back. dmexco is the largest global online and digital market show. It’s predecessor used to be a competitor show to one I launched and the founders of dmexco once offered me to join them for a sales role. Maybe I should have….hindsight. Anyway, 10 years on my friends have done very well and it is the second time this year, in the aforementioned 10 years, that I haven’t been to Duesseldorf (OMD) or Cologne (dmexco). That’s ok though.

My focus has changed. Not only do I feel more UK focused, I also feel more inward focused, both from a job and a personal perspective. I feel like my new job and challenge is what I was seeking. It is something that uses a different part of my brain, makes me use my intellect and people skills, yet has less pressure on sole revenue figures. Less travel. More home time. Less email strain. More fun. It is a change, and I openly say it, but it feels right and a change for the better. And I am not only saying that. I am convinced this is the step in the right direction. Thanks for the opportunity!

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When you, like me, see an industry growing up. Changing. It feels great. When you are told that you put companies on the market and my name is in line with ‘TV Sync’, it is nice to hear. I achieved something. I made people rich, as someone said, but I also made myself rich. Not in terms of cash but in terms of experience, in respect to contacts and reputation. I am thankful for that. And whilst this sounds like a bit of a funeral speech, I am looking back at my career and feel like I have finally arrived. It has been a good journey, and it will continue to be amazing: that I am sure about. I feel a lot more balanced and content. Isn’t that a good thing? And I haven’t really started yet, have I? My careers is only started, the most important part has just begun.

The remainder of the week flew past. Meetings. Training. Pitches. Management. Kids up late. TV watching the100. New trainers. And on Friday: the Apple Watch. Wow wow wow. Steve. You would have seen a predecessor of that beast. I feel like 2011. When I researched tablets and realised the only device that does what I want and all others are modelled on is the iPad. When I searched for fitness devices 18 months ago I could find the one that was right for me. Garmin was the closest but it wasn’t wearable tech. Now with the Apple Watch I have the fitness tracker and wearable tech in one. I was waiting for it. What a treat. Given I only used it for a weekend, I am impressed by the technology. I mainly used it as a fitness device and still figure out which other added value it has, besides being a gadget and makes me use my phone less often for things like checking the weather, emails, timers, stock market and so on.

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And the kids? The kids settling in well in school and enjoy the time with the child minder. The wife started her journey back into work. Life is changing once again. It is a good change, feels like we are growing up. As a family. We went to London this weekend too. We can do things. We can experience things together. The boys understand it. They gain from the experience. It is a joy. We went to London Borough market, a bit crowded and more touristy than we remember it from 10 years ago. Then the underground and DLR to the Emirates cable car. Did you see my live video on Facebook? I was a bit scared to be honest but enjoyed the day out with the kids. When they wanted to buy books, yes physical books, I couldn’t deny them the educational piece, could I. Back home via Victoria with a bus. Yes, we love living close to London. Next time we are eying up the London Eye and maybe a river boat journey. We shall see.

And during my meditation and walks, I every so often get reminded to not take things for granted. To treat each moment as being precious. To be sure I cherish the love of my family. To be thankful for what we have. What we can give and the difference we can make. The responsibility we have for our life and the life of others.

I meditate on it often. I am feeling blessed and truly grateful.

Best wishes,
Volker

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Sunday Column (398)

The news is out this week. It is official. I am leaving my current job, and I will be officially leaving the end of next week. I has been a great 2.5 years of exploring a slightly different angle of the industry, going through another acquisition and finding new friends and colleagues across the world. It was nice to hear just last week that clients would have loved to work with us, just because it was me. Those compliments are amazing and make me appreciate the lives I am touching, and the lives I am touched by. I am a people person, I care about people, in business and private. I am feeling flattered and it shows that sales and business relations still come back to personality first, product second. Sustainability, honestly and win/win go a long way. I was always keen to deliver on promises, and learned lessons early in my career that you don’t over promise and under deliver.

Now, the new role is different. It is still about promising to clients, internal and external, yet it is also about evaluating the sales people and technologies I have been representing in the last 6+ years! I am turning the table and apply my knowledge on the other side. It feels like I move from sales to procurement, get a lot more managerial and strategic tasks and joining a company that is on the edge to really move the needle in the space. I like to hope so anyway, and I cannot wait to join them at the end of August! I am going agency side. When working agency side in 2007, being responsible for sales, I enjoyed it and then got dragged into the tech sales, which in all honesty I enjoyed a lot too. Now I am back, with more experience and knowledge about the space, and I am excited to not pay the bills for lunch and ask those questions to sales people trying to sell me the latest tech. If you cannot summarise your solution in 30 minutes without a powerpoint…. 🙂

So the news is out, and the dates are set. I am very much looking forward to my new direction and another step in my career.

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I kicked the week off with another 25K run. I started early at 5:30 am and was back just around 8 am. It was fantastic, running with the sun rise, overlooking the South Downs being dipped into the golden morning light. Not a lot of people around and it was great to just get on. It cleared my head, made me think and came up with some solutions and ideas. Great start to the week!

Unfortunately my adidas Adistar Boost trainers are broken again after only 350K. My first pair was broken, the 2nd pair lasted, the exchanged first one now broke and I am ‘breaking in’ another pair just now. Definitely my last Boost pair, I can assure you. Having said that I went to sweatshop on Saturday afternoon and tried the new UltraBoost trainers. They are amazing, very soft and cushioned, and feather light. I am keen on getting a pair but it all depends what adidas says about whether the old pair was a manufacturers fault. Given I contacted Sweatshop 3 days after they sent the replacement, I have to take it up with adidas directly. I emailed them, let’s see, sending off the old pair on Monday. Definitely something wrong with that shoe! I did a cheeky 7.5K later in the week with the new pair of Adistar’s, just to be ready to hit the 10K in them next week again. Over are the days where a pair of trainers lasted me beyond a year.

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Then I have been back to Scotland this week. I flew up on Wednesday and then drove the family down again on Friday, with another stop over in Preston. This time the journey was a little bit more pleasant as traffic was better then going up. So we arrived on Saturday morning. Enough time to get the washing on, settle back in and be home again. It was good without the family but it is even better with the family! I missed my two boys and my wife of course. Now the cats pester the others not me 🙂

Also it marks my last flight for a while. At least my new job won’t demand me to fly regularly around Europe. An era of good 10 years in a European role coming to an end. There will be travel and potentially more international ones but for now I can hope for some fewer flights and hotel stays abroad. This will be nice for a while.

Some people asked me what I did, 10 days without the family? I can tell you that much: it felt a lot shorter, as I had been very busy. Partly I was working on some forms and test assignments, and on the other hand I made progress with my book. Yes, I now need to find the best way of drawing up some nice graphs, put the overall flow together and get it finalised. The end is in sight, early 2017 I should be able to publish my new Productivity on Life book. I thought of calling it #bebetter but feel free to come up with better suggestions.

I also found a lot of time to watch TV, movies, chill out and read. It is almost weird to be able to organise your own days and work around your work. Not sure I ever watched that much TV in a long time. And I also ate healthily, didn’t drink a lot (besides the stag do without a stag at the weekend in Brighton), and overall got a lot of chillaxing time in. A holiday as it should be on my own terms.

Now, having the family back is great. Catching up on 10 days of excitement and experience with my boys is fantastic. Almost a lifetime at their stage. The next break is with them, and I look forward to sharing experience with them too and maybe give the wife a wee break too. Life is hard, yet beautiful 🙂

That’s about all folks. I love driving the new motor, particularly the cruise control that breaks on your behalf and then accelerates if it can. Just like a self driving car.

Have a fantastic week.

Volker

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Sunday Column (396)

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The end of July. Wow. This year flew past. It is Thursday when I start this post, and this week passed quickly too. I don’t even know what I did on Monday. Amazing, and good to see I am busy. There are so many things I need to be sorting.

Let’s see. I updated you on my job situation last week. More updates to follow, once hopefully things get a bit clearer, once people are back from holidays. Emails are quiet. News sites are quiet. I keep writing my own news on Linkedin, so if you haven’t seen my articles there, please have a look. Holiday season means slow response times, no decision making. Hey, keep looking forward, enjoy the quieter time, and some of the nice weather. It will get busier before you know it.

In Germany we call it the Sommerloch, literally the summer hole. No, nothing rude, not an a*hole, but the hole the press and everything else falls into when it gets really quiet. My FT is getting smaller by the week, and the content worth reading too. Hibernation almost. I did notice that I got more tired, but a few runs sorted me out again. Some more sleep would be good but too many things are going around in my head. Summer hole. I like that term. It reminds me of home, of the smell of grass from the fields, the freshly cut one. The one they collect later on in the year for hay. It is like the beginning of Autumn, my most favourite season. I know we make it to the end of the year. Things are moving forward. When I grew up I didn’t have hay fever. I now seem to have some allergy. Things are in constant change.

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Talking about change. I noticed this week in particular how change is affecting fast growing organisations. I wrote about it a while ago that when people join organisations at the early growth stage, and they then evolve and these people leave, they might leave with a bad memory. Yet a lot of companies then attract new people. I overheard at an event a few weeks back, that someone said ‘how could you join this company, they are not doing well’. I don’t ever say that about any company. And this is not in regards to my current situation. But companies go through changes and if one person leaves, others transition in. It might just be the right opportunity for them at the time, and works very well. They grow with the company probably for another 2-3 years and then a new group of people transition in, the new old ones out. Only bigger cooperations can afford to job rotate you every 2-3 years, and only a few hang around to grow with smaller companies and continue to have an interesting job for life.

That is one of the reasons of digital staff turnover. Too many small to medium sized companies grow too quickly. Some people cannot cope with the amount of change or like more stability. Some people grow and some outgrow a company, growing personally quicker than the company. Then there are changes, and it is very common. Whether that is redundancy, voluntary leave or head hunted to another position, doesn’t really matter. But this change must be managed very carefully. Companies who do, are the ones that survive, grow and outgrow competitors.

No this picture isn't really the way we live in Scotland ;-)

No this picture isn’t really the way we live in Scotland 😉

So when I am speaking to companies about jobs, I don’t only look at the job. Given my experience I can do most senior jobs unless they require a very specific skill I might not have. Equally important for me is due-diligence within the industry. What is it like to work there? How high is the staff turnover? And if high, why? If low, why? What are the points of differentiation? Are we onto a winning organisation? What are the values represented within the company, what do they stand for? I am a people person and my next step needs to be right. Above is just one example of a whole array of questions and talking points when discussing jobs and positions. With the change of guard there are opportunities and they might just be right for one person and not right for another. That’s what makes our industry so exciting.

In the meantime I spent a fantastic weekend with the family in Scotland. I love being in Scotland and enjoy the Scots, their mentally and the fresh air. No kidding. 15 degrees, slight drizzle and some fresh sea air. Nothing beats that. Whilst you looking out of your living window, across the Black Isle, having a coffee, the peat fire on and think about the things to come, the things to accomplish. You hug your kids as they wake up. You makes sure they are happy and you think, that this is now the only thing that matters. Everything else must wait. Everything else is secondary.

I cherish those moment. The moments that fully fill that summer hole for me!

Have a great week,
Volker

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