Posts Tagged flying

Sunday Column (425)

A funny, mixed week that was. Lots of things going on at work and at home. Discussions, ideas, strategies. My head was spinning most days, days turning into a big blur. After two full packed days in the office where we made a lot of progress, I went off to lovely Milan. In the meantime the team even made more progress. I have the feeling we are winning. I know it is early days, just about a month in, but it seems like we are ‘getting shit done‘. It feels good.

Ever since I helped getting Milan and Madrid off the ground for a company I worked for a few years ago, I love going to Milan (and Madrid). It’s the people, the city, the smell, the taste, the food, the wine, the atmosphere, the alps – and being able to visit my new company’s regional office there and spend some time with the guys, was wonderful. I truly enjoyed the trip, and I found it very useful and fruitful to bring things together, learning a lot too. The team is super advanced and I learned a lot.

The flight was fun. After a rough night with kids waking me up at 3 am and a 5 am pick up by my taxi, I slept through the whole flight. Yet when approaching the airport we pulled up again last minute. Another plane was given priority due to a person falling sick on that plane. Fair enough. So we turned up and around and landed on the second attempt. That was a first for me. Next week I am going to Germany, which in regards to culture will be at the other end of the spectrum to Italy I suppose. I really enjoy those travels again and being part of a bigger international team. Working in international companies is fun, and we have some very smart people in the company.

Anyway, let’s not talk about work every week 😃 I spend most of my time with work, so it is good to get some downtime now and then. Last weekend I got little. Last weekend I was very jet lagged. This weekend I had to go to the Apple Store because my MacBook Air gave up on me, I cannot start it any longer. Maybe I just give it back and trade it against an Apple TV? However it turns out that the repair is probably more costly than it is worth in value, as I don’t really need it anymore. So before I find out next week, I got the new Apple TV and the kids (and I) are happy. New games, new fun. There are not many Apple products left I adore and would like to have. Maybe the new MacBook, the slimmer and nicer one, yet having an Air from work suits me fine. If I have to upgrade my iPad mini, I would potentially get a iPad Pro. Never mind, not for a long time I hope.

The main challenge is to see my boys so little at the moment. Because of travel, late trains home from work, them getting up later etc. And yet, when I do see them they seem to change so quickly. It is difficult to keep up with their development, their latest ideas on toys, their wish list for Christmas (already!), the things they enjoy doing. Although they spend most of their pocket money on toys this weekend, leading into half term. However, every night when I do see them, it is a new miracle of thoughts that are coming out of their head which I enjoy exploring and questioning. One responds nicely, the other one doesn’t like it. They are like chalk and cheese, so different, so differently motivated, it is a joy to see, however painful it can be too.

Balancing their needs and mine. Wondering if I am a good dad, do I do a good job? It is a job or is it fun? What is the desired outcome for the boys? You cannot treat it like a work project. I listened to a lot of podcasts travelling, and one of them was about a chess player. He got involved in chess heavily at the age of 6. Should I push my boys more into that? Anyway, just when you think things are going well, I ended up listening to a podcast of a woman who lost two husbands and had two kids, one from each. At least I think that’s what it was, as I lost track a bit dozing off. But it is a sad podcast about a family with lots of challenges.

Those are the moments I thank the greater universe for the health we have. I remind myself to eat healthier and drink less. To look after myself and the family more. To be a better dad. A better husband. To have more time for things. I am sitting next to someone on the plane who seems to write an academic article. Should I have written a phd after all? Should I have gone into academia? I sometimes wonder but I am very happy with what I do and the progress I am making in my career. So life is good and most people I know are healthy. I am blessed, truly thankful for what I have and hopeful that it stays that way.

It has been a good week. I am content and life feels right. I sorted my citizenship ceremony and look forward to become a full blown Brit. Did I mention there is another 88 GBP fee to attend the ceremony? It really seems as if getting the citizenship is also a money making machine. Never mind, I am almost there.

Have a great week, make sure to give your loved ones a big hug.
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.

hand-over

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.

adidas-ultra-boost-deep-sea-blue-1

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 (203)

This week was dominated by flying and associated chaos. Work took me to Cologne on Monday. With the snowy weather I was worried that we might not make the flight. We left the office in time, checked the websites and then arrived at Paddington to find out that the Heathrow Express wasn’t working. Hence we cut it fine and just made our flight using the tube. Wow. A bit too much travel stress for my liking on a Monday.

easyjet snow

Back we went on Thursday, thanks to an unannounced strike by security personnel, we spent 3 hours in the queue and had an hour delay before arriving safely in London Gatwick thanks to a fabulous Easyjet crew. I normally don’t mind travelling, and travelling in a group is always easier. Having said that, if you make your own schedule it is easier if you don’t run into problems. Chicken and Egg. This time we really worked well travelling as a team. The next bigger trip is with the family, this won’t be easy either. No question, Friday turned out to be a slow day. Having not slept Thursday night, I hit a wall around 4 pm and almost fell asleep at my desk. Last week was exhausting.

Three days of sales training paired with good catch ups across our European offices really motivated me. I haven’t actively been selling but got really keen refreshing some of those skills. I actually dug up my SPIN selling notes, Conceptual and Strategic Selling book again when I got home. The fun training paired with some booze and fantastic colleagues as well as a meeting with my cousin made this trip highly enjoyable. I am on fire. Push ups anyone 😉

Chats about parenting styles left me reflecting on how you bring up your kids, how much time you want to spend away from the family and what is really important in life. How much trade off are you prepared to make between family and work, career and seeing the kids. It seems to be difficult to make the right decision and / or finding the right balance. I keep working on it. I missed my two boys this week and of course missed my wife. I believe with me living so far out of London that I don’t see the children during the week, I am just “home at night”. Assuming this still counts as being home, however if I was away like friends of mine in the consulting business working from Monday to Thursday away, neither me or my wife would like that. Luckily I am not. Having done the bi-weekly 1-2 nights away, I think that is manageable. This is a difficult one. If you haven’t seen “Up in the Air” with George Clooney, have a look for it. You don’t want to end up like him, or do you?

Having been back to Germany was interesting. I detach myself more and more from being German and thinking like a “typical” German. Of course it is not as black and white. However, still being able to speak the language, paired with English humour and elegance ;-), seems to get you a lot further in this country. A big publisher said a few years ago “I make my life more enjoyable through sarcasm”. Maybe another good way of putting it. Charming the hotel staff or the airport security works better using some less available skills Germans have paired with my German-ness. I love it…sometimes 😉

Anyhow, you probably already noticed that I enjoyed this work week, spending quality time with people I like, I work with (and like) and have known for many years. Most of us have been launching my company in their respective country and mastered similar challenges. We have a lot in common!

At the weekend we had a nice get together with some local folk: parents of Colin’s preschool mates. Lots of booze, great chats and discussions. I am slowly but surely get properly settled within the community. I like it down here. Hassocks is great and I am trying to sell it to friends to move down here too. There is a 3 bedroom available in our road, and plenty smaller and bigger houses around the place. Newly builds and Victorian.

Sunday, finally, Colin came up with the chicken pox spots. So he should be finished with it just in time for our planned trip. I was thinking for a while that he might be immune to it. We made another pulled pork in our slow cooker and had a chilled out day, trying to get on top of some of the mail etc. Another problem when you are away for a week, you have loads to catch up on.

Have a good week. The weather looks warm and rainy. So maybe spring is in the air already? We shall see.

All the best,
Volker

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Afraid of Flying? Don’t worry

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