Posts Tagged food

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 (383)

Enjoy your bank holiday weekend! I even had Friday off and enjoying a mini holiday. The weather has been ok, sunny yet cold. We went for a nice walk, made bow and arrows and had the fire on. I know….we are having a relaxing weekend really. Good food, too much food, nice wine but also plenty of exercise. I was desperate to run the length of a half marathon and so I did. I really enjoy the challenge of long distance running, so you never know what I might run next…

This week is somewhat decision time upon us. There are many lose ends I feel and trying to tie them all up needs decision making. One of them is the car. We spend last weekend and part of this weekend to go through features, benefits, pricing, ideas, necessities around a new car. The finance offers for a new Skoda Superb are just too superb to ignore. So we are set on the car, we are set on the offer yet have to find the best offer in town. Maybe we can make a decision as early as next week, we shall see.

No doubt there is a basic decision on whether we need a new car in general, whether we want a new car and whether we want to afford a new car. The answer to most of those questions is yes, yet it isn’t an easy decision making. You also need to take into consideration what else is going on in your life.

And that is a lot!

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Starting with some family discussions. We are thinking a lot on the private side of things as well. Should we stay the way we are, should we change. What needs to change internally to keep up with changes on the outside. Lots of decisions and discussions are being made.

And then we are renovating the bathroom. That took a lot longer than anticipated but it slowly takes shape. Some more minor things to do and then one room should be done, another should get done over the next two weeks. The driveway might not get done until autumn, yet the trees will be planted in a couple of weeks time. Then we need to decorate, make decisions on things, change a window and so on. It never stops. I couldn’t do it without my wife, Jenny, who does such a great job organising things. We are getting somewhere, and we are happy. That is the main thing of course but sometimes things are just overwhelming.

We are happy, healthy and have food on the table. I have a good job and enjoy the space I am operating in. As a matter of fact the bit of the industry I am working on is just forming properly, so lots of things happening! What is there not to like.

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Yes, I now need reading glasses. I have headaches, aches, pains from staring at screens all day. I am hopeful the new specs will help me see what is going on more clearly, and release some of that pain I am suffering from. Age, I am getting older, I just did, but not the big one yet. Still one year to go. Yet I feel fitter than I ever did and healthy and all. Just a lot of strain, which seems to get more as you get older 🙁

So there is a lot going on in our lives. Once most of the things have settled down and we have made most of the decisions we needed to do, we can move forward and enjoy life a bit more again. More easy. I guess I am just not the type to be all cool about things when I can see there is so much more to be done. And when it is all at ease…then I get bored again, work more on my book and will be busy again. Life goes in cycles. 6 months cycles some people would suggest. But life isn’t all bad, life actually – in majority – is very good. And we must appreciate that. Daily. Never forget!

We also got a sneak peak to Colin’s next school he goes to in September. A proper tour, met one of the head teachers and I think it is all good. I was impressed with the school actually and it strengthened our choice of moving to Hassocks. Life is good, as I said, and sometimes you forget how well you have it.

Drinking water, hot showers, all there. A roof over your head, a steady job, health.

In those moments it is good to just sit down, calm down and appreciate what you have and what you got. To stop. Smell the roses.

Enjoy the bank holiday.

Best,
Volker

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