Posts Tagged Family

Sunday Column (475)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck,
Volker

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Sunday Column (472)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sunday Column (469)

Merry Christmas.

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

Merry Christmas to you, peace and happiness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love and Kindness, Peace and Happiness, and of course a Merry Christmas.
Volker

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Sunday Column (468)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All the best,
Volker

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Sunday Column (466)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s my week really. How was yours?

Volker

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Sunday Column (463)

Good evening. Sunday night and as usual a busy week for me. To start out with a summary, my Monday was super busy. Working from home to get an air ventilation system installed that pumps dry air into our house in order to reduce condensation and therefore the build up of mould around the windows. We don’t have a huge problem with that so the unit we got should solve it and I am excited to slowly but surely finalise the house and get it into the ‘perfect’ state. So far it is working fantastically. I know it sounds like a daunting task but over the years you want to know what’s going on in your house and make sure the systems are running smoothly and the heating is working, the lights, etc. – guess it is my German efficiency and I just want to keep it in good repair I suppose. Sad life but as I enter middle age, the house is becoming a priority 🙂

I also added some new features to our spare bedroom in order to display my Lego model I build and also to declutter my desk, anticipating I might work from home more often again. Then I don’t want to anticipate too much, as I am still not sure what I will or want to be doing next. My last official day was on Friday, so 10 months, two jobs (running operations and Germany), and some great people and experience. I worked my butt off, flew to Germany every week and I feel like I accomplished something for the company. Some people said to me that this isn’t fair, however it is a job, and life in business isn’t always fair, is it? I never thought about it, as my thoughts are about the future, about what I will focus on moving forward. No point of looking back, I cannot change the past.

Having a few drinks with the crew, reading the leaving cards and looking at a fantastic leaving present (a nice bottle of whiskey), I cannot resist to say thank you. The team has been fantastic, a great time at Rocket Fuel, a great culture and fantastic people. Thank you. You have been fantastic. It is a small industry and paths will cross again. If I am not misinterpreting the notes, I had a positive impact on most of my staff. For that I am truly greatful. Not often can you look back and think you made an impact on someone’s life or people’s life for the better. Gave them some thoughts, some advice or just helped them to get perspective. And as always, I am happy to continue this and be there as an advisor or mentor moving forward. Don’t hesitate to reach out. My mobile is the same and most of us are now connected on various channels. Thank you once again.

Coincidental with me having my last week at work, my wife had 4 shifts to work. That meant school / child minder runs every day with the boys. Great times and thinking about it, I really enjoy waking them up in the morning and having that one on one time with them. We adding more of that individual time too, so moving forward I plan to take the youngest to Karate on a Saturday morning. Not long I will find something with the oldest too. I think that’s super important to build the bond and trust with the main priority in my life (see article on LinkedIn too).

Then I attended an industry event this week. Wow. I am impressed. Or not. I know I have been in programmatic coming up 10 years, but really, the amount of “non existing knowledge” is crazy (and no this is not lack of knowledge from the host or speakers!). Lotame invited for an amazing industry event which really show cased what needs to be done on the data side of things. However, the comments coming from the audience and some of the panel members set me back years. I had an interview earlier that day asking me about how many industry relationships I have and how many people I know, and how much I know about certain tech providers. Maybe it is stating the obvious, but if I need to speak to any industry tech or need my way into any agency, I find a way. Yet even the best relationships won’t get you a deal. I am sales by trade and I know people. People know me, this is surely not a criteria to employ or not to employ me. I have so much more to offer: leadership, management skills, processes, fun, industry knowledge, connections above and beyond and knowledge how to sell technology. Oh yes, I do listen to customer needs and if I don’t know I only sell once the integration or product team actually gave their go ahead. Sales pitch over 😉

Anyway, in the process of networking and knowing people, now that I don’t really manage people at Rocket Fuel anymore, I add them on Facebook. It seems to be a nicer way to connect and be part of people’s life, rather than the ‘professional’ LinkedIn. Latter is becoming cluttered with similar posts to Facebook and is moving into that direction. I wonder where we end up in years to come, if Snapchat can close the age gap and become an important platform, or if a newcomer will enter the market. Who knows. As with most things in the industry, you cannot predict the future or the outcome.

As the week comes to a close I reflect. It has been a good week. A good 10 months. Life is good, and I am healthy and happy. The house is better and I can put my last 10 months aside to focus on my next … 10 years maybe. The future is key and it is going to happen. I might not know how yet but it will and we will be alright. We always will be. Believe.

Things happen for a reason.

Have a great week,
Volker

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Sunday Column (449)

Oh yes. No Monday morning 5 am taxi pick up and a delayed flight after a bad breakfast to Hamburg. No, this Monday it was the normal 7:29 train service to London. No travel abroad and lots of catching up with my UK team. This was fun! I even squeezed a civilised dinner in with our American visitor, and made it home before 10 pm. Great result and great way to start the week. After having spend the last few days trying to cure the man flu, having my parents to visit, and sorting my infected toe, this was nice. Actually, I had a really nice, productive, day. 
The train home was quiet. My inbox also, given it is slowly getting to the quieter weeks of the year. This is nice, as I can focus on some not so urgent but equally important work tasks as well as catching up on some BBC iPlayer videos whilst writing my blog. Having the super sized screen, the iPad does allow for multi tasking, even if your brain doesn’t. Reading a book about the flow of things and how you best utilise your brain to be happy – the flow. I will update you on it as I read along.

The week stayed calm, or did it? Whilst the emails coming in are fewer than usual, the amount of work associated with each seem to go up. In other words, I was booked out back to back the remainder of the week, with requests coming in, needing a lot of my attention. But, and I said it before, I love what I am doing and I am GSD (getting shit done). However, coming home Tuesday night, after having had a few pints instead of coffee, I ended up with a Chinese and more wine. The weekend seemed to have started early this week, trying to cramp it all in. Despite all that, I was back to my first 10K on Wednesday morning at 5 am. Yes, that felt good. The first longer run since the Spitfire event. The first after my toe infection and the first after the man flu which slowly disappeared this week. I am getting back on it. I even fitted in a first weight session on Thursday. Winning it back. One morning at a time. Life is all about the daily routine.

Given the boys are off school and I hear about all their fun activities, I feel like I should be off too. During breakfast, the eldest sits with his huge fluffy teddy bear in the living room reading. The other one sits closer to me, colouring in. I have a rushed bite to eat, a quick kiss to say good bye, and off I go. Back long after they have been to bed. I sometimes wonder what a life would be like where you are home for 6 pm or 7 pm every night. I wouldn’t gain much time I don’t think. Being on the train from 7-8 gives me my hour of work, fun, chill out and declutter my brain time, something I don’t have to do at home. Yes, I miss bath time, but as they get older I see more of them in the evenings. The life and life balance we choose. The choices we make, to live close to London but not in London. To live close to the sea but not by the sea. The choices of houses, schools etc. I feel I made the right choices. However, as a friend of mine said this week over lunch, with Brexit and the current state of affairs, the government is harming it’s own country. Will Britain be strong enough to sustain a healthy economy in the long run. I believe, so I believe things will work out. And if not? I do not know, but maybe we move the family in a few years. Let’s cross that bridge when we come to it.

All of that influences our happiness. Our balances, our systems. I wrote about that in my book. It is up to us to define what we would like to do and achieve. What goals are we working towards to, or do we just go with the flow? Which values do we have and what is important to us? Where would or wouldn’t we compromise. I haven’t read a fiction book for many years. I like to spend my time constantly improving myself. I enjoy that. And that is my flow I suppose. My daily flow of things, my busy weeks balanced by chilled out weekends, shared activities with the family. The discussion around success vs. achievement. Being busy vs. productiveness. One doesn’t mean the other, and each of us has to find their own definition of it. Focus goes where energy flows. Focus on the things you want to achieve, that drive you on, your purpose. Remove noise and time wasters from the equation of your inputs, eliminate news and social media input. Strive for being better every single day.
As I prepare for some time off, rushing through things I know I won’t finish this week, and thinking the world will not end if I don’t, I reflect. Shutting down the brain and trying to relax. Letting go and recharge the batteries. The world will be the same but busier after the summer months, leading into Q4 and Christmas. What will it be like? What does the journey ahead look like? 

Trusting in the power of the universe and that things will always work out, I put my head to rest. I had another almost scare this weekend, a worry that comes with age. All is good though. Thank you. 

Time to reflect, recalibrate and learn from experience. 
Have a great week,

Volker

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Sunday Column (444)

Same procedure as every week? Same procedure. Heathrow on Tuesday morning and to kill some time I had a play with the Apple iPad Pro. The large one. The medium one. It makes my iPad mini look small. My keyboard clunky and my Evernote stylus, which I haven’t used for a while, obsolete. So thinking about not needing my notepad that scans things instantly, my Evernote stylus and instead having it all within my iPad Pro is very appealing. Just what I always expected the iPad to do. Finally. I am not ready to swap just yet. Having said that, my beloved ZAGG keyboard broke this week. A sign? First let the iPad Pro be out there for at least a year and the charger and connection cables be changed to the new USB one. Or will they? And when do we find out? Painful, or maybe there won’t be cables and everything will be wireless charging? Let us wait a while. So a cheap replacement keyboard it is for now.

I am not getting too excited about Apple anymore. This is mainly because I feel that the innovation leaps are gone. The incremental innovations are amazing and first class, but the new revolutionary things are nowhere to be seen. But I let myself be surprised of course and I cannot wait for their October event to reveal the new iPhone and whatever else is in stock. With Apple buying a new company every few weeks, AR will be high on their cards. I cannot wait for that. Discussing innovation and IOT and technology moving further into our homes on Linkedin the other day, the question is who owns the data of voice recognition and voice recordings and learning from those analysis. There is a huge can of worms we are going to open, and when your TV listens to you making love during certain TV shows to show you ads….or Alexa offering you the latest sex toys from Amazon on the back of it…..those are scenarios we have to be careful about. Or do we? I guess this is the question we have to ask.

Can we rely on our privacy in a connected home moving forward? I am not sure we can but do we have a choice? We should of course have a choice. Interesting times ahead. We are trusting a lot of information in our phones, our tablets, our computers. Our personal assistants like Siri/Alexa and soon other devices. And whilst thinking about this, I am more and more putting my phone away at the weekend. I do not need all the social media entertainment. Maybe the odd messaging, email or call of course. The time for a detox is coming closer I think, and back to basics, the hippy movement of the 70s, just for digital, is near. That’s my prediction anyway. Not for all of us, but being disconnected, like me now on my flight, makes it peaceful and productive. The choice must be given even in a connected home stuffed with IOT devices. And no, probably not for me.

Travel. Routines. I have been very good keeping my routines going when travelling as described in my book on productivity. That means mainly to exercise and to eat healthy. However, as you get less sleep, be more busy, you have to compromise on some things over others. It can hurt. I managed to kick my five a day coffee habit. I am only drinking one double or triple espresso a day. I enjoy it a lot more and I am less agitated throughout the day. That works. Eating habits are in the process of being improved. Slowly but surely I am getting back to watching what and when I eat. My aim is to loose about half a stone by end of summer to have my “fighting” weight back 🙂 That’s about 3kg for my readers from the continent 😉 It won’t be in time for my 24 hour relay race but overall it should get me back in shape. My 10K is on the 48 minute mark on the treadmill, I am getting fitter again.

On the other hand I want to decrease the distance I run a week from 3x10K to maybe 20K over 3 runs. I want to stay fit and healthy but don’t overdue it. The next habit to tackle will be wine. No worries, whilst we all drink too much (according to government guidelines in this country anyway) it is more the regularity of having a glass at night to relax. So my plan is to replace that with an equally tasty, less alcoholic beverage. Tea maybe. Or juice. Putting all that together, I should be back on track for a healthy lifestyle that has lapsed a bit over the last few months. And part of it is the travel as it throws you out of your routine. With sleep, exercise, food etc. There is my summer challenge. One habit at a time.

Being tired and worn out also affects sleep and makes you impatient with the kids. I noticed that on Thursday when I took them to the child minder in the morning. Then I caught up on some fabulous sleep over the weekend, whilst doing some work too. This month will be busy.

And as H1, and 6 months in the new job, come to a close, I look back and think if I enjoy it, am I happy? The answer is yes. The opportunity given to me in the last 6 months are amazing, I feel I arrived and be in the place I want to be. Yet there is so much more I’d like to do but feel I don’t have enough hours in the day. Guess that will never change as long as I continue to have this fire in my belly. Which I do. And this won’t change.

Have an amazing week.
Volker

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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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