Posts Tagged First priority

Sunday Column (460)

I don’t even want to start with….Monday again 😉 I love sitting on the Monday morning train. I did my 7.5K run this morning and had a mixed weekend. A stomach bug and feeling quite run down. Not as relaxing as I hoped. However, there is a silver lining: my MIL was visiting this week and helped us with the kids. The other silver lining is that there is no travel planned for a while – at least not for work and not on a plane. Isn’t that nice? Even though coming to the end of the year with no more flights, I would on average (!) have done a trip every other week over the year. What I get in return is experience. And the nice thing about experience: it will help you connect the dots moving forward. As Steve Jobs says, in times of uncertainty and unrest, when you don’t know what happens in the future and how the dots will be connected, you need to trust your gut. You need to trust your heart, your inner self and that things will work out and the dots connect moving forward. And they always will. Believe!

I took a sick day this week as well. If I say sick day, I stayed home for two days, really WFH (working from home), so not getting as much rest as I should have. I had a bug lurking around since my trip to Belgrade and it was going on all week. I couldn’t shake it off. I dragged myself in on Monday and Thursday, feeling that I should but I don’t think my body appreciated it too much. I also tried drinking Coca Cola which I hadn’t done in many years, and it was awful. And it didn’t help. I thought I’d try, after all it was invented as medicine. At that stage I would have tried almost anything. One of my former managers used to say: you are worth nothing to the company being ill or not feeling 100%. Take care of yourself first before taking care of others and the business. And he is right. When in an airplane, do you ever watch the safety instructions where they tell you to put on your oxygen mask first before helping others? That’s the way to do it: you cannot help others if you aren’t up for it. Did I mention this was the first “proper” sick day in this job? And this besides the extensive travel? I guess I am doing ok then, and my immune system is up to scratch 🙂 The reason I am saying this is because a few years back I didn’t take care of myself and ended up being ill for weeks on end. That has changed. Mens sana in corpore sano. The exercise, better eating, more active life style, less booze. It pays off to look after yourself!

But let’s talk about some positive things. 10 years ago this week I wed my wife. A few years before we met when I was a bouncer at the first O’Neil’s in the UK, in Aberdeen. I remember meeting her in the summer of 2003, just as I had finished my first degree, and I thought, I’d like to see her again. For whatever reasons she didn’t come back to the club until February the following year. The rest is history. No, the culture clash wasn’t easy, but there was such a strong attraction that we even made it despite living apart in the first year we met: London and Wellington, New Zealand. When she came back, we got engaged, bought a house, had kids and lived (and continue to do so hopefully) …. happily ever after I suppose. She is an amazing woman. Very patient as you can imagine and very good with the kids. A supporting pillar without which I couldn’t have coped in life so far and I never want to miss her moving forward. I haven’t met a kinder, more caring person and 10 years on I love her more than ever before. Here is to the next 10! Thank you love!

Oh, and what I think the secret to a good marriage is? Fight regularly, make up regularly, and marry someone with a different mindset but same values. The latter is maybe the 80% that counts, as if your values don’t align, how do you bring up your kids or decide on anything?

On Friday, and thanks to Imodium 🙁 , we went out for a nice meal at Le Gavroche and also stayed the night in London, coming back home after a lovely breakfast. The experience at Le Gavroche was amazing. Besides a superior service and food to die for, the experience was worth the visit itself. The restaurant is run like clockwork. The staff are super trained and don’t miss the tiniest thing. Friendly, chatty and non pretentious. It makes it the best (posh) restaurant I have ever been to, and I would come back to this relaxed atmosphere anytime again. The flavours and composition of food were amazing and in a way you only get in a French cuisine. Thank you to my wife for wanting to go there. What a splendid night.

It is nice to just take a day to connect again, to only worry about ourselves, not the kids and knowing the kids are in good hands (MIL). It was really nice! After the week I had, it was good to just chill, and we even got some shopping in.

What’s next for me? As most people know there are changes coming up. And, there are still so many projects I’d like to do: like writing another book, doing the plastic model I haven’t started yet, spending more time with the kids making up for the travel, and doing the school runs to help the wife. And there are other projects lurking, so we shall see. The dots always connect looking backwards.

In other news, we saw some great skies in Europe this week, a red sun caused by hurricane Ophelia carrying Sahara sand. It was a bit gloomy on Monday and my youngest got really scared. Just as he got excited about Halloween. Poor him 🙁 It is so interesting to watch how we (us humans) react to the change of light and associate it with danger and the end of the world. Deep down we are very much connected with our blue planet and everything happening on it. We don’t call it Mother Earth for no reason. I would have loved to be on a plane this week – I know this contradicts what I said above – as someone was describing how beautiful it was to watch the phenomenon from up there. Maybe ironic that I didn’t travel this week.

So a proper mixed week. Feeling ill most of the week, sorting some stressful things out, worrying a lot about things, and trying to balance that with normal life. But what is normal these days. It isn’t easy sometimes. Life isn’t just straight forward, that would be too nice, wouldn’t it? Or boring, really. But guess that’s what it is. I had to cancel a lunch with a friend and I hate doing that, because a) I still didn’t feel right and b) I had a clash with work.

Life isn’t always fair, but we must make the most out of it. We need to sit back, relax, take a deep breath and be grateful for what we have, and what we have achieved. We have to look out for the ones that need our help and the ones we can help on the way. I am a firm believer that if you help others, then others will help you. And everything in life happens for a reason. You attract goodness in your life by giving goodness to others, you are attracting good things. Closing the loop.

In that sense, have a good week ahead,
Volker

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Sunday Column (459)

Monday again – ok Sunday when you start reading this. A mixed week is behind me which started with a Monday flight to Belgrade, Serbia. I have never been, heard a lot and went to see the operations office of the company, Sizmek, that acquired the company I work for, Rocket Fuel.

As a VP Client Success I joined Rocket Fuel back in January, anticipating that they either sell or be taken private. I have seen their history from being a competitor to being a partner to being a supplier and knew most of the people there. And I have been around in programmatic for 7 years, so a good fit I thought, but also a bit risky. Then the sale happened this summer and we are now part of Sizmek, backed by a P.E. Company (Private Equity) which originally took Sizmek private last year. So we have two ex public companies joining forces to build the biggest independent demand side stack in the programmatic space. This is a very promising proposition and I was very excited to be part of this. A great proposition.

With my commercial background and in depth operational knowledge, I was hired to align the back office, operations and analytics, with key accounts to drive further growth. Using my commercial acumen with the understanding of the space and experience of how to run campaigns, aligning back office with client growth. We never quite completed that as I was pulled in to run the German office where I successfully managed a turn around. So two senior jobs since the beginning of the year, lots of travel, lots of time away from the family. Now, the structure moving forward will look different. Less client success, more of an operations and sales divide. So things will change with the company and ultimately for me.

Belgrade. Air Serbia, and again a bit of nerve wrecking when my ticket had a spelling mistake, but everything was fine, and a very hard landing with squeaking brakes. I trust old planes 😉 Air Serbia got me there and back again. Belgrade is a city which on first sight resembled the Eastern part of Berlin 20 years ago, yet it turned out to be beautiful and full of the nicest people ever. Lots of meaty food, lovely people and very rich on culture with influences from Russia, Turkey, Hungary and Greece. It took me back to a trip I made to Istanbul a few years back. The merger of East and West, the tradition, cultural influences from all over the region and the amazing, well flavoured food. I believe I got a good feel for the people and the country. Essentiallly, due to travel times, we only spend two days in the office, however those two days were action packed and we learned a lot.

You remember when I spoke about experience in last week’s blog? That’s what it is all about. Understanding. Listening. Sharing the glass of wine and good food. Making friends and bringing people together. An amazing trip, not only for work and the extension of what we are doing in main markets, but to understand the challenges and opportunities in the Serbian market.

What did I noticed most in terms of the cultural differences – besides a noisy hotel that felt like a youth hostel on the first night (and the manager emailed me to apologise) – people still smoke a lot and you can still smoke in restaurants and bars. Yes, this is more of a Southern culture I suppose. Funny how after only 10 years (the smoking ban was introduced in the UK in 2007), we got so used to having smoke free clothes. I quit chain smoking in 1998, then smoked on and off until about 2004 before I finally gave up. Even that is crazy to think now. And given the lack of sleep, I introduced a second espresso again, and I really needed it 🙂 Not only because of the noise but we wanted to make the most with our hosts to get to know them in and out of the office.

So you would agree I suppose that this week was action packed. Enjoyable, tiring, yet encouraging and full of learning. A roller coaster ride on emotions and reflection on strengths and experience. What else to ask for?

Over the forthcoming weeks I can be more detailed about some personal developments, plans and some ideas; I prepared a few posts on life, work and priorities. Christmas is coming up and Tesco has already filled a whole aisle with things that are Christmassy. Oh yes, the joyful season. We had friends over for dinner, went bowling and enjoyed this autumn weekend.

I hope you did too. It is great to hear from more and more people that they enjoy reading this column. For the forthcoming weeks, keep reading, I will go deeper on a few things. And feel free to let me know what you want me to write about.

Have an amazing week ahead,
Volker

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Sunday Column (458)

I love starting my blog on a Monday. Whilst it won’t make much of a difference to you, the final post being shared on Sunday, I love sitting on the plane or train on a Monday to reflect on the weekend, on life in general. Latter was the whole purpose when I started the Sunday Column now 458 weeks ago. Almost 10 years. It was about not only copying things and sharing things, but making my blog personal. I believe I have achieved that. It also gives me an outlet for my thoughts. My readership is in the thousands and people from all over the world are visiting my site. This is a nice thing to know that every week, people are waiting to read my weekly column. Thank you for bearing with me.

So reflecting on the weekend, I didn’t do much to be honest. We all have a cold and seem to be tired. My best friend from Germany was supposed to visit but was ill himself too. So we ended up with a very relaxing weekend. Some good food and excellent wine, cheese and the fire being on. We also got some game controllers for the AppleTV and the boys thinks we got an Xbox now. Not being an avid gamer myself, the boys and us enjoy the odd game we can play. Life is good and I sorted a few things out over the weekend that needed attention, as well as our holidays to Singapore next year. My cousin lives there and we are keen to visit. Even Economy few months ahead is expensive, but I guess that’s summer holidays and 4 people flying. When booking flights, besides an awful experience on the Singapore Airlines website, we opted for them over Norwegian Airlines. Latter are cheaper and flying from Gatwick, yet with Monarch just going out of business, I think relying on a big airline might just be the way forward. I would have loved to book British Airways, yet the price premium couldn’t be justified at all.

Adventures, experience. That is what life is all about. Gaining a competitive advantage through experience in work and life. Teaching your offspring for them to have a head start in life. This isn’t always easy. I love my manager for that at work, who despite me being prepared for meetings and being on top of things, always finds something else. I soak up his input and wonder if I will be such a good manager when I have another 10 years experience. I hope I will. I am confident I will, but this is for others to decide. My next trip for work takes me to Belgrade, Serbia. Somewhere I have never been, so I am looking forward to it. A new experience, an adventure. This is going to be fun. Not like the weekly commute I have done to Germany throughout the year. No adventure there, just experience 😉

But experience is key. In a workplace which is changing. There are no, or fewer, 30 year long careers. In new industries like online and digital marketing where I am part of, the average tenure is probably around 2 years. Probably even less. And as a friend of mine told me a couple of years ago, if you have done your job you are done, no matter if it is 1 year, 2 years or 5 years – or 6 months. This goes in line with a lot of industry posts I am reading about more and more people becoming consultants. Don’t get me wrong, just recently I have met people that have been with their employer for 11 years and this will exists, but the ones that drive change will be in and out of companies on a short tenure, or found companies themselves. Those progressive and success driven entrepreneurs are the new power managers of tomorrow’s world. I am working on an article around that as we speak.

That brings me to more change. As the leaves turn and I spend some time at home – ill children and then school events – I am looking out of the window and contemplate. Is that it? Is the life we have now, the village set up, is that me for the next 30 years. A yearly harvest festival, Light up Hassocks for Christmas, the local tennis club. Will we not want to change anymore? Is that what they call contentment or happiness?

Spending a day in the local community, showing face at school events and at tennis, I loved being around the boys, being part of their experience. They are my first priority and I do not spend enough time with them during the week. And I absolutely love the way we are living. I love our house, neighbours, driveway, and I am content in the place I am. But coming back to experience, adventure and life changing, when do you know when and how to change? Is it the external Brexit challenge? Is it the shooting in Las Vegas that once again makes a move to the US unappealing? What is it? How do you know? When do you know you found the place you should be staying forever?

Maybe I am impatient and expecting too much. Things come to your at the right time. Things happen for a reason. Change is good. I could quote another 100 sayings like that. But it is true. You MUST trust in the universe that things work out. You think any other ‘animal’ but humans ever think about the future and their mortgage? Ever wondered if the cat on the fence thinks about climate change? We are complicating our lives by thinking and ultimately worrying too much. No, the cat doesn’t. Kids don’t. And dare we teach kids to worry, they should enjoy life and do what they want. Follow their heart. Because the heart knows what is right or wrong.

More autumn thoughts next week, as we are getting further into my most favourite season.

Have an amazing week. Stay well,
Volker

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